Pennsylvania’s Cellphone-Use and Texting-While-Driving Laws

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

Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law generally bans all text and electronic messaging while driving. But the state doesn’t have any restrictions on talking on the phone while driving.

Here are the specifics of what Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law prohibits and the penalties you’ll face for a violation.

Texting and Electronic Messaging

Pennsylvania’s distracted driving law prohibits motorists from using an “interactive wireless communication device” to write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving.

Interactive wireless communication device. The distracted driving law doesn’t define “interactive wireless communication device.” However, the definition presumably includes cellphones, tablets, and other wireless devices that are capable of text-based messaging.

Text-based communications. The term “text-based communication” includes text messages, instant messages, email, and all other written communications composed or received on the wireless device.

Talking on the Phone

Pennsylvania has no laws that restrict drivers from making or receiving calls or talking on the phone while driving.

Fines and Other Possible Charges

Texting-while-driving is a summary offense in Pennsylvania. The fine for a violation is $50. However, with additional fees, surcharges, and court costs, the amount the driver actually has to pay is usually over $100. The good news is that texting violations won’t add demerit points to a motorist’s driving record.

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

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