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Cell Phones and Texting: Distracted Driving Laws in North Carolina

cell phone north carolina

North Carolina defines distracted driving as times when the driver’s attention is away from the primary task of driving. Distractions are broken down into four categories, which are visual, auditory, manual, and cognitive. Some common distractions include:

  • Cell phones
  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Changing a CD
  • Talking to passengers
  • Planning a day’s work

In North Carolina, it is illegal for drivers of all ages to text while operating a motor vehicle. For drivers under the age of 18, they are not allowed to use cell phones at any time. The only exception to this law is a driver who is using a phone to call 911 in the case of an emergency.


  • Drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone at all if they are under 18 years of age
  • Texting and driving is illegal for drivers of all ages
  • Driver over the ages of 18 can make phone calls from a handheld or hands free device


  • Dialing 911 in the case of an emergency

If a law enforcement officer observes a driver texting and driving, or making a phone call while that person is under the age of 18, they are allowed to pull the driver over. They do not have to see them commit any other violation first as texting and cell phone laws are primary laws in North Carolina.


  • $100 and court costs if you decide to challenge your ticket

North Carolina has specific laws when it comes to using cell phones and texting while driving. It is illegal for drivers of all ages to text and drive, as this is considered distracted driving and is a safety hazard. Novice drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone of any type, unless it is an emergency. Even though making phone calls from a handheld cell phone is not illegal in North Carolina, this does not mean it should be done on a regular basis. It is important to pay attention to the road and your surroundings so as to stay alert.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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