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

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

Nebraska’s distracted driving laws prohibit all motorists from text messaging while driving. And for commercial and school bus drivers, texting and talking on a cellphone is illegal. This article covers the specifics of the laws and the costs of a texting or cellphone ticket.

Commercial and School Bus Drivers

The operator of a commercial vehicle, school bus, or vehicle designed to transport between nine and 15 passengers is prohibited from text messaging or using a cellphone while driving.

Driving. For purposes of the texting and cellphone ban, “driving” includes when the vehicle is actually in motion and temporarily stopped because of traffic or a traffic sign or signal. In other words, to lawfully text or talk on the phone, the driver must first park safely to the side of or off the roadway.

Texting. “Text messaging” means entering text into or reading text from any electronic device, including SMS, email, instant messaging, accessing a website, and pressing more than one button to initiate or terminate a call.

Exceptions: There are a number of exceptions to the cellphone and texting ban for commercial and school bus drivers. A vehicle operator doesn’t violate the law:

  • if the device or cellphone use was to communicate with law enforcement or other emergency services
  • by inputting, selecting, or reading information on a GPS or navigation system, or
  • making or receiving a call using hands-free technology (provided that no more than a single button is necessary to dial or answer the call).

Fines, Points, and Other Consequences. Commercial and school bus drivers will have to pay $200 for a first violation, $300 for a second violation, and $500 for a third or subsequent violation of the texting and cellphone ban. A violation will also add three demerit points to the motorist’s driving record. And a texting or cellphone violation is considered a “serious traffic violation”; two or more serious traffic violations can lead to loss of commercial driving privileges.

Text Messaging Ban for All Drivers

Nebraska’s distracted driving law prohibits all motorists from using a handheld wireless communication device to read, type, or send a written communication while driving.

Wireless communication devices. For purposes of the texting law, “wireless communication devices” means any device that can be used for text-based communication and includes cellphones, tablets, personal digital assistants, laptops, and pagers.

Exceptions. Nebraska’s texting-while-driving law contains a number of exceptions. The law doesn’t apply to:

  • hands-free or voice-operated device use
  • devices that are part of or permanently attached to the motor vehicle
  • to emergency services personnel (including medical professionals and police) performing official duties, or
  • motorists using a device in an emergency situation.

Fines and points. The fines for a texting violation are $200 for a first violation, $300 for a second violation, and $500 for a third or subsequent violation. A violation will also add three demerit points to the motorist’s driving record.

Enforcement. Texting violations are “secondary” offenses—meaning an officer can’t pull a driver over just for a texting violation. In other words, an officer can cite a driver for a texting violation only if there’s some other reason (like speeding or running a red light) for making the traffic stop.

Other Possible Charges

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

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