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

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

Vermont 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 and the type of device the driver is using.

Restrictions for "Junior Operators"

Drivers who are under the age of 18 ("junior operators") are prohibited from using a "portable electronic device" while operating a vehicle. This restriction includes laptops, tablets, cellphones, and other similar devices. And the restriction applies even when the driver is temporarily stopped for signals, signs, traffic, and the like.

The only exception to the junior operator electronic device ban is for communicating with law enforcement or emergency services personnel.

Restrictions that Apply to All Drivers

Vermont has a handheld electronic device ban and a texting law that apply to all drivers. There's some overlap between the two laws, but when a driver's conduct violates both laws at the same time, law enforcement can ticket for only one of the violations.

Handheld Device Ban

Drivers are generally prohibited from using a handheld portable electronic device while operating a vehicle. This prohibition applies even when a driver is temporarily stationary for things like red lights and stop signs.

As the name suggests, the handheld ban doesn't prohibit drivers from using their device in hands-free mode. Also, the handheld device restriction doesn't prohibit:

  • activating or deactivating hands-free mode (so long as the device isn't affixed to the windshield)
  • communicating with law enforcement or emergency services personnel, or
  • using a manufacturer-installed or securely mounted GPS.

Texting While Driving

Vermont's texting-while-driving law prohibits "texting" while operating a vehicle. For purposes of the law, "texting" means reading, manually composing, or sending an electronic communication, including email, text messages, and instant messages. The texting law contains no exceptions.

Distracted Driving Penalties

The fines for any type of distracted driving violation are:

  • $100 to $200 for a first violation, and
  • $250 to $500 for a second or subsequent violation within a 24-month period.

Junior operator and handheld device violations normally add two points to a motorist's driving record. And for one of these two violations that occur within a work or school zone will also add four demerit points (five points if a second violation) to the driver's record.

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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