Cell Phone Accident Law

What Are Cell Phone Accidents?

Cell Phone Accidents occur when drivers use their mobile devices while driving, resulting in distraction that leads to a car accident. Several states and countries have implemented laws banning or restricting the use of mobile devices while driving.

Distracted Driving Laws

Distracted driving laws pertain to using various devices for different purposes while driving. 12 states and Washington D.C. have laws against drivers using a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving. These states also have "primary enforcement" authority, meaning a driver does not have to otherwise present probable cause for a stop; simply using a cell phone is sufficient to allow an officer to pull someone over and give them a ticket. While no states yet ban all cell phone use for all drivers, 37 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.

Similarly, text messaging bans are sweeping the nation. While Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007, 41 other states and the District of Columbia have joined suit and now ban text messaging for all drivers, six others ban it for novice drivers, and three ban it for bus drivers. All but four of these states have "primary enforcement" for text messaging, as well.

Local Laws

In addition to state laws, some jurisdictions allow local governments to pass bans on mobile device use. That means while using a cell phone without a hands-free device might be legal elsewhere in the state, within certain counties or cities it may not. Check with local law enforcement to know for sure. Other states, like Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, prohibit such practices.

Other Prohibited Practices

While most distracted driving laws deal with phone calls and text messages while driving, other practices are likely prohibited, as well. Some may be expressly banned by statute, case law, or as a reasonable extension of the law. For example, playing a video game, watching a video, or composing an e-mail are likely all banned activities, as well, in jurisdictions that have restrictions on the use of mobile devices, even if not expressly set forth in the statute. Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right, so laws regarding prohibited activities are often liberally construed to achieve the intended objective of the law.


Many of these statutes make it the fault, per se, of any person involved in an accident who was using a mobile device improperly. Even in states without bans on the use of cell phones (or certain uses for mobile devices while driving), a driver's liability for an accident may often be proved by the fact that they were distracted by use of the device. For that reason, even if one is not concerned about receiving a ticket, it is wise to avoid using a mobile device while driving in order to avoid being liable for an accident, especially if the accident would not otherwise have been the distracted driver's fault.

If you would like more information about cell phone accident laws, you can review the materials found below, or you can contact an attorney in your area. A list of attorneys may be found on our Law Firms page.

Copyright HG.org.

Cell Phone Accidents Articles

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