Pending Distracted Driving Legislation

Since distracted driving has been a fairly recent legal topic in the past decade or so, many states have yet to enact legislation that is effective enough at creating and enforcing measures to combat driving while distracted.

Though many states do have some type of laws or regulations regarding distracted driving, especially when it comes to cell phone use, there have been recent complaints that the laws are ineffectively enforced and the penalties are not steep enough. This page offers a few examples of pending legislation as of 2016 that reflect some of these growing distracted driving concerns.

To learn more about distracted driving, check out our distracted driving resource center.


Currently, texting and driving is banned in the State of Ohio but remains a secondary offense, which means a person can only be charged with an offense if they have been pulled over for a different traffic offense. However, due to enforcement problems, both the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate have introduced similar bills regarding more strict enforcement and penalties for distracted driving.

H.B. 86, which has been stalled in the Ohio legislature for some time, would create a fine of $100 for a first-time texting and driving offense, and a $300 fine for subsequent offenses. H.B. 88, another bill in that same category, would move texting while driving from a secondary to a primary offense for all adults. In the Senate, S.B. 146, which is currently pending in the Ohio House, would create stricter penalties for moving violations involving distracted driving, including an extra $100 fine.


As part of a national anti-distracted driving campaign called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” the State of Massachusetts’ Highway Safety Division has recently teamed up with local police departments to more effectively enforce its existing distracted driving laws.

Currently, Massachusetts bans texting for all drivers as a primary offense, and all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers and novice drivers. However, state officials are recognizing that these laws have not been effectively enforced and that distracted driving is not limited to just sending and reading text messages.

In the House, Bill H.3474 would require that drivers wanting to use their cell phones must use a hands-free device, which includes making phone calls. A similar measure was approved in the Massachusetts Senate this past January, which would impose a $100 fine on any driver caught using a cell phone without a hands-free device, with steeper penalties for subsequent offenses.

New York

A newly proposed House bill in New York would add an important distracted driving measure into auto accident investigations. Following the death of a 19-year-old in 2011 as a result of a crash involving a distracted driver, the new bill (A08613), named “Evan’s Law,” would allow police to check drivers’ cell phones after crashes. Using new “Textalyzer” technology, investigators would be able to see if the driver’s cell phone or other portable electronic device was being used at the time of the accident.

Under the proposed law, motorists who refuse to surrender their phones to police after the accident could face up to a $500 fine, immediate license suspension, and a one-year license revocation.

More Information

For regular updates on current and pending distracted driving legislation, visit the following resources: