Delaware’s Cellphone-Use & Texting-While-Driving Laws

Read about Delaware’s distracted driving laws and the costs of a violation.

Delaware has several distracted driving laws that restrict cellphone use and texting while driving. The specific rules that apply depend on the age of the driver, the type of vehicle the driver is operating, and the specific device the driver is using.

Restrictions that Apply to All Drivers

Delaware has a handheld electronic device ban that applies to all drivers. This law prohibits using an electronic communication device while operating a vehicle that's in motion.

Details of the Texting and Cellphone Law

Qualifying devices. For purposes of the law, an "electronic communication device" includes cellphones, personal digital assistants, devices with mobile data access, laptops, tablets, electronic games, and the like.

Device use. Basically, you can get a ticket for using an electronic device in any way while operating a vehicle. The prohibited uses include playing games, engaging in a call, text messaging (reading, writing, or composing), and sending or views images or data.

Exceptions. The electronic device ban doesn't apply to:

  • emergency services personnel using devices in the course of their duties
  • school bus drivers communicating with dispatch
  • operators of farm tractors and equipment
  • amateur radio users, and
  • persons using two-way radios that are mounted to the vehicle and used for business purposes.

And, the ban doesn't prohibit hands-free device use.

Distracted Driving Penalties

For a first distracted driving violation, there's a $100 civil penalty. For each subsequent offense within a two-year period, the civil penalty is $200 to $300. However, traffic violation points aren't assessed for distracted driving tickets.

Restrictions for Learner's Permit Drivers

Drivers who are under the age of 18 and using a learner's permit aren't allowed to use electronic devices at all while operating a vehicle. In other words, no texting, talking on a cellphone, or other electronic device use, regardless of whether the device is in hands-free mode.

The only except to this restriction is for device use when the driver is parked at a location that's off the lanes of travel.

Learners permit holders who are caught in violation of this law face the possibility of permit suspension for one to three months.

Restrictions for School Bus Drivers

Delaware law prohibits school bus drivers from using a cellphone while operating a bus with at least one child aboard.

The restriction doesn't apply to communications with dispatch if the bus isn't equipped with a two-way radio. Also, the driver can establish a defense by proving the cellphone use was for an emergency.

Bus drivers who violate the cellphone rule will have to pay a fine of $50 to $100. For subsequent offenses, the fine is $100 to $200 and the driver's school bus endorsement will be suspended for at least six months.

Distracted Driving and Other Possible Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a texting or cellphone violation could also lead to a reckless driving conviction. And if one of these violations results in the death of another person, vehicular homicide charges are a possibility.

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