Washington DC Cell Phone & Texting and Driving Laws

Handheld cell phone use and texting is prohibited for all District of Columbia drivers. All cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) is prohibited for District of Columbia school bus drivers and for novice drivers.

Cell Phone Use

All District of Columbia drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones while driving. Under the law motorists can still dial a cell-phone call manually, but must use a hands-free device to talk on their cell phone while driving.

Novice drivers in the District of Columbia - drivers with a learner's permit – are prohibited from all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free).

If handheld cell phones are prohibited, then what’s permissible? Here are the common options:

  • abstinence (don't use a cell phone while driving)
  • speaker Phone
  • use a bluetooth wireless device
  • use a wired headset
  • install a car kit 


All District of Columbia drivers are prohibited from texting.

Bus Drivers

All District of Columbia school bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones  (handheld and hands-free) and from texting.

How is it Enforced?

First time offenders of the law will have their fines suspended, if they submit proof that they have acquired a hands free device. If drivers from other jurisdictions are ticketed for a cell phone driving infraction, those drivers could lose their drivers license if they fail to pay their Washington D.C. ticket. The fine for repeat offenders will be $100 for each violation. The District of Columbia’s handheld cell phone and texting laws are considered “primary” laws, as is the prohibition on all cell phones for bus drivers. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation.  

Read more about the District of Columbia’s distracted driving laws.

Other Washington DC Information on this Website  

Drunk Driving Laws, Penalties and Fines in the District of Columbia

Teen Driving Laws and Insurance Requirements in Washington DC

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