North Carolina's Cellphone-Use & Texting-While-Driving Laws

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

North Carolina's distracted driving law generally bans texting-while-driving for all motorists and talking on a cellphone for only certain drivers. This article discusses the specifics of what the law prohibits and the costs and other consequences of a violation.

Talking on a Cellphone

For most North Carolina motorists, there are no restrictions on talking on a cellphone while driving.

However, school bus drivers and drivers who are under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cellphones and cellphone features—including cameras, Internet, games, and music players—while operating the bus or vehicle. This prohibition applies only when the bus or vehicle is actually in motion.

Exceptions. Bus drivers and underage motorist are permitted to use cellphones in emergency situations. And for underage drivers, there's an exception to the cellphone ban for communicating with a parent, guardian, or spouse.

Penalties. A bus driver cellphone violation is a class 2 misdemeanor and carries a fine of at least $100. Underage cellphone violations are infractions with a fine of $25. No demerit points are assessed for either type of violation.

Texting and Email

North Carolina's distracted driving law prohibits all motorists from texting and emailing while driving. Generally, the ban includes entering and reading text messages and email.

Exceptions. The texting and email law doesn't apply to:

  • motorists who are lawfully parked or stopped
  • law enforcement officers, firefighters, or ambulance drivers while performing official duties
  • factory-installed or aftermarket GPS systems, or
  • voice-operated technologies.

Penalties. School bus drivers who violate the texting law are guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor and must pay a fine of at least $100. All other violators are guilty of an infraction and face a $100 fine. Texting violations won't add demerit points to a motorist's driving record.

Other Possible Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a texting violation could also lead to a reckless driving conviction. And if a texting violation results in the death of another person, death-by-vehicle charges are a possibility.

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