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Is It Illegal to Talk on the Phone While Driving?

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New technology features are making staying connected behind the wheel easier than ever. Most new cars come with built-in phone systems, so you can sync your smartphone with your car’s infotainment system to make hands-free calls. But for those of us with older cars, talking on the phone while driving is an even bigger safety hazard.

A few years back, several states began enacting handheld cell phone bans. Forty-seven states (and Washington D.C.) have bans on texting and driving, but the rules for making phone calls are a little more laid back, varying state by state. We decided to take a closer look at each state’s laws on handheld cell phone use behind the wheel. Regardless of your state’s laws, it’s always best to pull over to make your phone call or use a hands-free device.

Please note that these lists refer to phone calls, not texting and driving. For texting and driving state laws, click here.

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States with Handheld Cell Phone Bans

The following states ban handheld cell phone use while driving:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia


States with Age Restrictions for Handheld Cell Phone Use

The following states require you to be above the listed age in order to use a handheld cell phone while driving:*

  • Alabama — 16 years old
  • Arkansas — 21 years old
  • Colorado — 18 years old
  • Georgia — 18 years old
  • Indiana — 21 years old
  • Kentucky — 18 years old
  • Louisiana — 18 years old
  • Massachusetts — 18 years old
  • Nebraska — 18 years old
  • North Carolina — 18 years old
  • North Dakota — 18 years old
  • Ohio — 18 years old
  • Texas — 18 years old
  • Utah — 18 years old
  • Virginia — 18 years old


States with No Handheld Cell Phone Ban

The following states do not have bans or age restrictions on cell phone use while driving:*

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming


*If you have a learner’s permit or are an intermediate license holder, restrictions may vary.

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Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)