A State by State Analysis of Texting While

By Gregory D. Conforti,
Prepared with assistance by
Adam Sidoti
For specific information as to each state, please contact the authors:
Adam Sidoti – [email protected] 312-372-0770
Gregory D. Conforti – [email protected] 312-372-0770
Primary Enforcement
This means that a police officer can stop you and cite you
for an observed violation of your local version of the
hands free cell phone law. The police officer does not
need to have some other primary reason to stop you, such
as your tail light being out or speeding.
Secondary Enforcement
A law will usually only be enforced when a primary
enforcement offense has also occurred. In areas where
hands free cell phone laws are in the secondary
enforcement category, police will usually enforce your
hands free cell phone law with a citation only when there
is another Primary enforcement reason to stop your
vehicle and have a conversation with you.
States have identified the following categories
of distracted driving:
All cell phone use (handheld and hands-free)
Handheld use only
Text messaging
10 states, D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands
prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell
phones while driving. Except for Maryland
and West Virginia (until July 2013), all laws
are primary enforcement—an officer may cite
a driver for using a handheld cell phone
without any other traffic offense taking place.
No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers,
but many prohibit use by certain subsets:
32 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice
School bus drivers in 19 states and D.C. may not use
a cell phone when passengers are present.
39 states, D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands
ban text messaging for all drivers.
All but 4 have primary enforcement.
An additional 5 states prohibit text messaging
by novice drivers.
3 states restrict school bus drivers from texting.
Some states such as Maine, N.H. and Utah treat
cell phone use as part of a broader distracted
driving issue.
In Utah, cell phone use is an offense only if a
driver also commits another moving violation
(other than speeding).
Many states include a category for cell
phone/electronic equipment distraction on
police accident report forms.
Proposed federal legislation would require
states to collect this data in accordance with
Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria
guidelines to qualify for certain federal
Many localities have passed their own
distracted driving bans.
However, some states – such as Florida,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada,
Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma – prohibit
localities from enacting such laws.
Ban on Texting for All Drivers
Alabama (primary)
 Alaska (primary)
 Arkansas (primary)
 California (primary)
 Colorado (primary)
 Connecticut (primary)
Ban on Texting for All Drivers
Delaware (primary)
 District of Columbia (primary)
 Georgia (primary)
 Guam (primary)
 Idaho (primary)
 Indiana (primary)
Ban on Texting for All Drivers
Illinois (primary)
 Iowa (secondary)
 Kentucky (primary)
 Kansas (primary)
 Louisiana (primary)
 Maryland (primary)
 Maine (primary – all distracted driving)
Ban on Texting for All Drivers
Michigan (primary)
 Massachusetts (primary)
 Mississippi (primary)
 Minnesota (primary)
 Nebraska (primary)
 Nevada (primary)
 New Jersey (primary)
Ban on Texting for All Drivers
New York (primary)
 New Hampshire (primary)
 North Carolina (primary)
 North Dakota (primary)
 Ohio (secondary)
 Oregon (primary)
 Pennsylvania (all)
Ban on Texting for All Drivers
Tennessee (primary)
 Rhode Island (primary)
 Vermont (primary)
 Utah (primary)
 Virginia (secondary)
 Virgin Islands (primary)
 Washington (primary)
 West Virginia (primary)
Ban on Texting for All Drivers
Wisconsin (primary)
Wyoming (primary)
Most states have enacted specific legislation
taking aim at distracted bus drivers
ALL cell phone use banned for bus drivers in:
 Arizona, California, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware,
D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky,
Massachusetts, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Jersey,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas,
Tennessee, Virginia
Almost all states have taken aim at novice
drivers, and young drivers.
37 states have specific laws to deal with new drivers.
South Carolina
South Dakota
In April 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) launched the "Phone in
One Hand, Ticket in the Other" enforcement
program in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse,
New York.
During four enforcement waves over the course of
a year, Syracuse police issued 9,587 citations for
violations involving talking or texting on cell
phones while driving. During the same period,
police in Hartford, Connecticut, issued 9,658
tickets for illegal phone use.
In Syracuse, both handheld cell phone use and
texting behind the wheel declined by one-third.
In Hartford, where researchers initially
identified drivers talking on their cell phones at
twice the frequency, there was a 57 percent
drop in handheld use and texting behind the
wheel dropped by nearly three-quarters.
Ask for the number and service provider in
From this, you can issue a subpoena to the
respective provider in order to learn about the
numbers being dialed, the time at which they were
dialed, and the length of the phone calls, but no
major provider will provide you with the contact
list (with names) or the content of text messages.
Once you obtain information showing that the
content of messages may be relevant, move the
Court for a protective order, permitting you to
obtain the actual phone or SIM card, and provide
same to an expert.
Kevin Ripa of Advanced Surveillance Group,
Inc., can be reached at (888) 677-9700.
There are three phases: (1) Acquire, (2) Analyze
and (3) Report
He connects the phone or data card to lab
equipment which utilizes a specialized
software to extract information, even some of
which that may have been deleted!
Cell phone technology is constantly evolving,
so what may not have been possible 6 months
ago is likely easily done today.
The phone needs to be isolated from the network
Immediately after an accident becomes known, file a
motion for a protective order to obtain the actual phone.
 A phone must be isolated from its network because it can be
erased remotely. It can be determined when the phone was
wiped clean, however.
Have the phone sent directly to a company like Advanced
Surveillance Group, Inc. Do NOT tamper with the phone.
 Some information is encrypted while other information is
not; some encrypted information can be decoded, even
after it is deleted.
The content of text messages
The exact location of the phone when it was used
The exact location and date and time of where an
individual was when a photo was taken or video
was made
The names associated with the phone numbers
The GPS location of the cell phone at all times
Remember, you never know what you may find, as
smart phones evolve with applications which store
all types of information.

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