GHSA November 2016 (A complete chart of all states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ cell phone and texting bans)
Hand-held Cell Phone Use: 14 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws—an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
All Cell Phone Use: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
Text Messaging: Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. Currently, 46 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 5 have primary enforcement. Of the 4 states without an all driver texting ban:2 prohibit text messaging by novice drivers, 1 restricts school bus drivers from texting
GHSA 2015 ( Includes drunk, drugged and aggressive driving, passenger restraint, helmet laws and more – Click on the U.S. map for any state to review the highway safety laws
Graduated Driver Licensing Laws (GDL) by State , GHSA November 2016 (A complete chart of all states, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ GDL laws)
Since novice and young drivers have the greatest crash rates, with motor vehicle crashes being the leading cause of death for young drivers, many states have a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law with interim steps before full driving privileges are granted. The programs vary from state to state. Below are a few of the highlights:
Cell Phones/Texting: 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers (See GHSA’s Cell Phone laws page for more information.)
Nighttime Driving Restriction: 48 states and D.C. restrict nighttime driving during the intermediate stage.
Passenger Restriction: 46 states and D.C. restrict the number of passengers during the intermediate stage.
Novice Driver Decal: New Jersey is the only state with a measure requiring those younger than 21 without full-privilege licenses to display a decal on their vehicle identifying them as new drivers
The Kulesh, Kubert & Bolis’ Law, passed by the State of New Jersey became effective July 18, 2012.
It enpowers prosecutors to charge those driving illegally using a cell phone
as being reckless. The law allows criminal charges to be filed, such as
assault by auto or vehicular homicide, if the motor vehicle crash causes
serious bodily injury or death.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances in which New Jersey driving laws
were written at the time of Toni and RJ’s crash, sentencing of the the
offender included a two year loss of license and a $257 fine. Additionally,
he is required to attend three presentations given by the Toni & RJ
Foundation - one a year for three years, anonymously.
Under the law called the “Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis’ Law,” proof that a defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle may give rise to the presumption that the defendant was engaged in reckless driving. Prosecutors are empowered to charge the offender with committing vehicular homicide or assault when such type of accident occurs from reckless driving. Vehicular homicide is generally a crime of the second degree, punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Assault by auto is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury occurs and a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury occurs. A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The penalty for a disorderly persons offense is imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
The new law is named after New Jersey residents who were killed or severely injured in a crash caused by someone using a handheld cell phone while driving. Helen Kulash was crossing the street when she was killed by a driver illegally using a cell phone. David and Linda Kubert are now amputees after a man who was texting crashed into their motorcycle. Toni Bolis, nine months’ pregnant with her son, Ryan Jeffrey Bolis, was killed in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver using a cell phone.