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Is It Illegal to Talk on Your Cellphone While Driving in North Carolina?


For those who travel frequently, it can be a bit challenging to keep track of the ever-changing rules of the road. In one state, it’s illegal to talk on your phone at all. Then you cross a border and it becomes legal again, so long as you use a hands-free device. Is talking on the phone and driving illegal?

Is it Illegal to Talk on the Phone While Driving?

Nevertheless, the laws are there to protect us all. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that handheld cellphone use is entirely banned in 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In North Carolina, there is currently no ban on handheld phones or hands-free phones for adults aged 18 and older. Minors are prohibited from using any devices while driving.

Although it is still completely legal to talk on the phone and use navigation systems, texting and driving are outlawed in North Carolina for all drivers. There is a $100 fine for those cited for violating this restriction.

North Carolina is a “primary law” state, meaning the police can stop you and fine you solely for texting and driving. In “secondary law” states, the police must have another primary reason for the stop. For instance, if the officer stops you for DUI and discovers you were texting, he or she can cite you for both offenses. In North Carolina, however, an officer can pull you over for the actual offense of texting and driving.

How Do Police know If Your Were Talking or Texting?

Technology is now making it easier for the police to use special devices to determine whether a person was talking on a phone or texting at the time of an accident or a traffic stop.

Some argue these tests could raise problems with privacy rights, and Constitutional challenges may keep these from being implemented in many states. Nevertheless, so-called “textalyzers,” as described in a report by NBC News, may one day make it easier for police to prove that someone was a distracted driver.

Is There a Fine for Using Your Cellphone and Driving in North Carolina?

There is currently no fine for adult drivers operating passenger vehicles and talking on the phone. However, for drivers under the age of 18, there is a $25 fine for cellphone use. Adult drivers who violate the texting ban receive a $100 fine.

There are stricter fines, however, for commercial drivers. Under federal motor carrier regulations, handheld devices should not be used by commercial truck drivers. Special rules apply that could cost a driver his or her license.

Can I Sue a Driver Who Crashed into Me While Talking on the Phone?

Yes. If you are seriously injured in a car accident, and a distracted driver caused the crash, then that person is responsible for all the injuries he or she caused. This includes compensation for your medical bills, damage to your vehicle, your lost income from missing work, your pain and suffering, and other losses.

Determining the amount of compensation that is appropriate in your unique case can be a challenge. Do not count on the other driver’s insurance company to treat you fairly or look out for your best interests. Even your own insurance company may not care that you were badly injured. The insurance companies only care about paying as little as possible to get you to settle.

What Else Is Considered Distracted Driving?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that 9 people die and more than 1,000 are injured every day in America simply because of distracted drivers. The CDC breaks distracted driving into three behaviors:

  • Visual Acts – taking eyes off the road
  • Manual Acts – taking hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive Acts – taking your mind off the task of driving

Younger drivers are disproportionately at risk, due to less driving experience, less maturity, and a higher rate of device use in general.

Although a lot of people have begun using hands-free devices, Bluetooth devices, and in-car speakers to reduce their handheld device usage, distracted driving includes a lot more than phones. Distracted driving includes:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Putting on makeup/getting dressed
  • Smoking
  • Writing or reading
  • Watching videos
  • Anything that takes attention away from the road

Hiring a North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyer

Distracted driving accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities than those where both drivers were paying attention. Our dedicated distracted driving attorney can gather evidence, get witness statements, and build a strong case against the person who hurt you. We handle all the legwork in your personal injury claim so you can focus on recovering.

The knowledgeable and experienced injury lawyers of Strickland Agner Pittman work hard to make sure our clients are treated fairly. You never pay for an initial consultation, and you pay no fee unless you recover from your injuries. Contact us online or call us at (919) 893-0090 today to speak with someone about your case and get the answers you need.

* Proposed Legislation Still Not in Effect

On March 23, 2017, the “Brian Garlock Act” (SB 364) was filed in the North Carolina Senate. To date, the bill has not become law. The law would have made handheld devices illegal, meaning drivers would have to purchase a hands-free option, such as a Bluetooth headset, earpiece, or installed speaker for their car.