There are few places in this country where you won't get busted for texting while behind the wheel -- 47 states and Washington, D.C., have outlawed texting for all drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
If you get a texting ticket, will it raise your insurance rates? In most cases, yes. Whether or not texting tickets hike your rates a lot, a little or not at all depends on your insurance company and state laws, among other factors.
The average percentage rate increase after a texting ticket was 23 percent, but could be as low as 12 percent and as high as 45 percent, based on a survey of six insurance carriers in 10 ZIP codes in every state, commissioned by Insurance.com. That doesn’t mean all carriers raise your rates, though.
“If you live in a state that treats a texting ticket as a moving violation, it’s treated by insurance companies like any other minor ticket,” says Michelle Megna, managing editor of Insurance.com. “But there’s a big difference in how individual companies handle tickets. With some, a single ticket might not affect your rates at all. Others might decide you don’t qualify for a good driver discount anymore. And some might actually raise your rates quite a bit.”
And, in some states, it's illegal for car insurance companies to hike your rate for a texting ticket conviction. In Idaho and North Carolina, state laws prohibit insurers from raising rates based on texting violations.
Multiple moving violations on your record almost certainly guarantee a rate increase, Megna says.
How much does car insurance go up after a texting ticket? Increases by state
|State||Average clean record rate||Average rate after texting ticket||Percent increase||Dollar increase|
*Methodology: Insurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to field rates from up to six major insurers in 10 ZIP codes in every state for a driver of a 2017 Honda Accord, age 40, with good credit and full coverage and $500 deductible; increases shown are an average from the base rate.
Texting laws and license points
Beyond a fine and an insurance increase, a texting ticket adds points to your driving record in some states. That's important because you could lose your license if you rack up too many. In California, for instance, four points in a 12-month period gets you a six-month license suspension and year-long probation.
Points affect car insurance. If they show up in a review of your driving record, they'll probably lead to a rate hike, especially if you have other infractions or have been in a recent accident.
You'll see in the chart below which states ban cellphones while driving -- unless you use a hands-free accessory -- and which have laws against texting and driving, as well as how those laws are enforced and if the penalty carries license points.
|States||Hand-held ban/Talk only hands-free||All cellphone ban||Texting ban||Enforcement||License points|
|Alabama||No||Drivers age 16 and 17 who have held an intermediate license for less than 6 months.||All drivers||Primary||2|
|Arizona||No||School bus drivers; Learner's permit and provisional license holders during the first six months after licensing (effective 6/30/2018)||No||Primary: cell phone use by school bus drivers|
|Secondary: cell phone use by young drivers (effective 6/30/2018)|
|Arkansas||Drivers ages 18 to 20 years of age; school and highway work zones||School bus drivers, drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary: for texting by all drivers and cell phone use by school bus drivers.|
|Secondary: for cell phone use by young drivers, drivers in school and work zones|
|California||All drivers||School and transit bus drivers and drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary: hand held and texting by all drivers.|
|Secondary: all cell phone use by young drivers.|
|Colorado||No||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary||4|
|Connecticut||All drivers||Learner's permit holders, drivers younger than 18, and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|Delaware||All drivers||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|District of Columbia||All drivers||School bus drivers and learner's permit holders||All drivers||Primary|
3 points for second offense; 6 points if accident
|Georgia||Yes (eff. 7/1/18)||School bus drivers. Drivers younger than 18.||All drivers||Primary||1|
|Hawaii||All Drivers||Drivers younger than 18||All Drivers||Primary|
|Illinois||All Drivers||Learner's permit holders younger than 19, drivers younger than 19, and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|Indiana||No||Drivers under the age of 21.||All drivers||Primary|
|Iowa||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary: for all offenses (effective July 1, 2017).|
|Kansas||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary|
|Kentucky||No||Drivers younger than 18, School Bus Drivers.||All drivers||Primary||3|
|Louisiana||No||School bus drivers, learner's permit and intermediate license holders, drivers under age 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Maine**||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary|
|Maryland||All drivers, School Bus Drivers.||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders under 18. School bus drivers.||All drivers||Primary||1 for third offense|
|Massachusetts||Local option||School bus drivers,||All drivers||Primary|
|passenger bus drivers, drivers younger than 18.|
|Michigan||Local option||Level 1 or 2 license holders.||All drivers||Primary|
|Minnesota||No||School bus drivers, learner's permit holders, and provisional license holders during the first 12 months after licensing||All drivers||Primary|
|Mississippi||No||School bus drivers.||All drivers||Primary|
|Missouri||No||No||Drivers 21 years or younger.||Primary|
|Nebraska||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders younger than 18||All drivers||Secondary||3|
|Nevada||All drivers||No||All drivers||Primary||4 for second offense|
|New Hampshire||Yes||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|New Jersey||All drivers||School bus drivers, and learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary||3 for third offense|
|New Mexico||Local option||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders.||All Drivers||Primary|
|New York||All drivers||No||All drivers||Primary||5|
|North Carolina||No||Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|North Dakota||No||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Ohio||Local option||Drivers younger than 18.||All drivers||Primary: for drivers younger than 18.|
|Secondary: for texting by all drivers.|
|Oklahoma||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders, school bus drivers and public transit drivers||School Bus Drivers and Public Transit Drivers||All Drivers.||Primary|
|Oregon||All drivers||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Pennsylvania||Local option||No||All drivers||Primary|
|Puerto Rico||All drivers||All drivers||Primary|
|Rhode Island||Yes||School bus drivers and drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|South Carolina||No||No||All drivers||Primary|
|South Dakota||No||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Secondary|
|Tennessee||Drivers in marked school zones (effective 01/01/18)||School bus drivers, and learner's permit and intermediate license holders||All drivers||Primary|
|Texas||Drivers in school crossing zones||Bus drivers. Drivers younger than 18||All drivers (effective 09/01/2017)||Primary|
|Utah||See footnote*||Drivers under||All drivers||Primary for texting; secondary for talking on hand-held phone|
|the age of 18.|
|Vermont||All drivers||Drivers younger than 18||All drivers||Primary|
|Virginia||No||Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers||All drivers||Primary: for texting by all drivers.||3|
|Secondary: for drivers younger than 18.|
|Washington||All drivers||Learner's permit and intermediate license holders.||All drivers||Primary|
|West Virginia||All Drivers||Drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license||All drivers||Primary||3 for third offense|
|Wisconsin||No||Learner's permit or||All drivers||Primary||4|
|Total||All drivers: 15 states and District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.||School Bus drivers: 21 states and District of Columbia.||All Drivers: 47 states and District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.||Primary for all drivers texting: 43 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.||40 states, U.S. Virgin Islands and District of C|
|Teen drivers: 38 states and District of Columbia.||Secondary for all drivers texting: 4.|
Governor’s Highway Safety Association
.* Utah considers speaking on a cell phone, without a hands-free device, to be an offense only if a driver is also committing some other moving violation (other than speeding).
** Maine has a law that makes driving while distracted a traffic infraction. 29-A M.R.S.A. Sec. 2118.
*** Listed as a part of contributing factors