Not only is texting while driving unsafe, but it’s also illegal in Missouri. For drivers aged 21 or younger, it is illegal to use your cell phone to text while driving in our state. Laws do vary, so be aware when you are crossing state lines.
Section 304.820 of Traffic Regulations states that “no person twenty-one years of age or younger operating a motor vehicle upon the highways of this state shall, by means of a hand-held electronic wireless communications device, send read or write a text message or electronic message.” This means that you may neither send texts/instant messages nor surf the web checking websites like Facebook or Twitter.
The Missouri law took effect on August 28, 2010, and permits law enforcement officers to fine novice drivers who are seen texting while driving. A novice driver is considered someone aged 21 or younger. An infraction is deemed a moving violation under the law. The current fine for violators is $20.50 plus an additional $60.50 to cover court costs.
Be careful if you are driving into Illinois, where the law is more restrictive. Illinois has a ban on texting for all drivers, not just those aged 21 and under. Novice drivers younger than 19 may not use their cells at all, and phone use is banned for everyone in school and highway construction zones.
As a moving violation, you could be fined up to $1,000 for texting while driving in Illinois. For all drivers aged 21 or older, three moving violations in one year could result in a driver’s license suspension. Those that are younger than 21, two moving violations in any two-year period will result in a suspended license.
General exceptions for these rules are:
- Dialing 911 or reporting an emergency
- Sending texts while you are lawfully stopped
- Using a hands-free device or voice-activated mode
Distraction.gov is a great resource to find your state’s laws against using your phone while driving. No matter what your age, the best way to prevent crashes is to keep your eyes on the road at all times. Nobody should be texting or using the phone while driving. If you do need to send an important message or check your smart phone for directions, pull over to do so.