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Wisconsin Text Messaging and Cell Phone Laws

There is no prohibition on cell phone use while driving in Wisconsin. However, all Wisconsin drivers are prohibited from texting. Wisconsin law also prohibits distracted driving — which essentially refers to any moving violation that is committed because the driver was so engaged or occupied that the distraction affected motor vehicle safety.

Texting Laws

Drivers are prohibited from texting.  The texting ban doesn't apply to: 

  • those operating authorized emergency vehicles
  • devices whose primary function is to send and receive emergency alert messages or messages relating to the operation of the vehicle, or accessories that are integrated into the electrical system of the vehicle, such as a global position system (GPS)
  • amateur radio operators who hold a valid operator's license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), when using dedicated amateur two-way radio equipment and observing proper amateur radio operating procedures, and
  • hands-free devices or voice-operated equipment, as long as the driver doesn't use his or her hands other than to activate or deactivate features or functions of the device.

The texting ban prohibits only writing or sending messages, not receiving or reading them. However, drivers who are so distracted by text messages that it interferes with their ability to drive safely may still be subject to penalties under the state's inattentive driving law.

Don't Watch Television While Driving in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's inattentive driving law also prohibits driving a vehicle equipped with a device for visually receiving television broadcasts, if the device is located anywhere forward of the rear of the driver's seat or any place where the driver can see it while driving.

How is it Enforced?

The penalty for a first offense for violating the texting law is a fine of $20 to $400 and up to four points on the driving record of the offender. Second-time offenders face a fine from $200 to $800.Wisconsin’s 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 Wisconsin’s distracted driving law.

Other Wisconsin Information on this Website  

Follow the links below to get additional information regarding driving laws in Wisconsin.

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