Driving And Cell Phone Laws In The United States

Driving And Cell Phone Laws In The United States

Although it seems a bit like a no-brainer, there are still numerous people who drive and use their cell phones. Whether it’s texting or talking or even taking photos or video, a cell phone is a common distraction for new and experienced drivers—and it’s unfortunately an incredibly dangerous one. The average person looks at their phone for about five seconds while driving, which might not sound that awful. But five seconds of your eyes off the road while you’re going 55 miles per hour is enough time for you to cross the length of a football field. Every state has its own laws regarding cell phone safety while driving, but here is a bit of information about what is and is not legal in certain states that you may not have remembered from driving school online.


Unfortunately for Texans, this is a state where it is not yet illegal to use your phone when driving. There are some city-specific laws, though, as well laws prohibiting novice drivers or bus drivers from cell phone use.

A novice driver is considered someone who has held their license for twelve months or less. Novice drivers in Texas are not permitted at all to text while driving or using their cell phone in any way. School bus drivers may not use a cell phone while the bus is in motion at all.

Of course, it’s great to have these restrictions in place, but there are no particular fines in place for this type of behavior. This means that, more than likely, you’re sharing the road in Texas with someone who’s distracted by their cell phone. The best thing you can do is practice defensive driving and assume all drivers you encounter are distracted. Additionally, just because driving while texting or talking is not technically illegal does not mean that it is at all safe to do.


Driving school in California will show you that, thankfully, they have more of a system in place to discourage drivers from driving with cell phones in hand. Handheld use is completely banned for California drivers, and complete cell phone use (including hands-free devices) is banned for bus drivers and novice drivers.

So what does this mean? Bus drivers may simply not use their phones at all to take calls or text, no questions asked. For regular car drivers, this means that texting or holding the phone up to your ear is illegal. If it requires you to hold it or press buttons on it, then it is not allowed. Here are your other legal options:

  • Putting the phone on speaker.
  • Using some kind of wireless device, like a bluetooth headset.
  • Using a wired headset.
  • Installing a car kit.
  • Abstinence, or completely avoiding use while driving.

Violating these rules is punishable with fines. The first offense costs the driver $20, and every subsequent offense is $50. Not only is it dangerous, but it can become quite a costly act as well!


Arizona currently adopts the same approach to cell phone use while driving as Texas does. Except for school bus drivers, there is no ban for texting or handheld use in the state. There have been some laws that were introduced at one point, but have not yet passed.

There are fines that are limited to two of Arizona’s main cities: Phoenix and Tucson. In both of these cities, the fines are $100, and if the texting causes an accident then the fine is even greater—$250. Hopefully the rest of Arizona will catch on and soon put a ban on texting and cell phone use, for the safety of everyone on the road!


Florida has put a secondary law into place regarding texting while driving. This means that you cannot be pulled over merely for texting; instead, you must have committed some other traffic violation in addition to texting while behind the wheel.

The law itself states:

“A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”

But again: you cannot be pulled over simply for texting. The texting violation is considered a non-moving violation that is added onto your other offense. If, however, the texting is deemed the cause of a crash (which is considered a moving violation), you will be penalized six whole points on your license.

Other Locations

As mentioned earlier, every state has its own rules and regulations when it comes to cell phone use behind the wheel, and it’s important to note it may not be covered as thoroughly in an online driving school. Before you drive anywhere, make sure to know the law.

Our Suggestion: Don’t Do It!

Even if your state permits texting while driving or making phone calls while you’re getting from point A to point B, it’s highly advised to put your phone out of sight and out of mind. It is no secret that distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, not just for you, but for your passengers and other people on the road. Just because you consider yourself skilled at texting, can use the dictation feature like a pro, or have no issues even just using the speaker on your phone, all of these situations require some amount of your attention. If you absolutely must use your phone while driving, find a safe place to pull over instead, making the road a much safer place for everyone.