FAQ About Distracted Driving Laws in Louisiana
According to the Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety (CARTS), there were at least 13,529 car accidents in Louisiana caused by distracted driving in 2020. Of that number at least 4,293 resulted in injuries, and thousands more caused property damage.
While the first thing many of us think of when we hear distracted driving is using your cell phone, many other types of distractions contribute to traffic accidents in New Orleans and throughout the entire state, including distractions both inside and outside the car. To help drivers better understand what is and isn’t allowed on local roadways, Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys has compiled this guide to the distracted driving laws in Louisiana every motorist should know.
Is it Illegal to Talk on the Phone While Driving in Louisiana?
It is not strictly illegal to talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel in the state of Louisiana. There is no state law prohibiting all drivers from entering a telephone number or contact name into their device for the purposes of making a phone call. Calls may be made legally while holding your phone or via hands-free options like Bluetooth.
However, there are two important exceptions to this allowance under Louisiana Revised Statutes 32:300.6-7. The following persons are prohibited from using any wireless telecommunications device (i.e., a cell phone) to make or answer a phone call unless the device is hands-free:
- Drivers who only have a Class E learner’s permit or intermediate license, and
- All teen drivers who are under the age of 18
The only exceptions to this ban on phone calls is if the driver’s vehicle is parked, or if they are reporting a traffic accident, calling for medical help, have reason to believe a crime is being committed, or believe that their safety is in jeopardy.
Fines for using a mobile device to make or receive a phone call in Louisiana range from $500 for a first-time offense to $1,000 for subsequent offenses. If the driver is involved in a car accident because of using their phone illegally, the fine is doubled.
Note: Just because making a phone call isn’t expressly prohibited by distracted driving laws in Louisiana doesn’t mean that talking on the phone while driving can’t be a form of distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages all drivers to refrain from using their phone entirely while driving, including to make a phone call.
Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Louisiana?
In short, yes— it is illegal to read or write a text message or access any social media website while driving in the state of Louisiana.
According to Revised Statute 32:300.5, it is against the law to use a wireless telecommunications device such as a cell phone, text messaging device, tablet, or computer to write, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a vehicle on any public road or highway in Louisiana. In addition, the law also prohibits using any of the aforementioned devices to access, read, or post to a social networking site.
There are a few exceptions to this law. More notably, it does not apply when the device is used by the motorist for the following reasons:
- Navigating using a GPS system
- Reporting illegal activity
- Summoning medical or other emergency help
- Preventing injury to another person or to property
Fines for texting and driving in Louisiana range from $500 for a first-time offense to $1,000 for subsequent offenses. If the driver is involved in a car accident because of texting and driving or using social media, the fine is doubled.
Can You Make a Phone Call in a Louisiana School Zone?
School zones are one of the few places in Louisiana that all drivers, even those over 18, are prohibited from using their cell phones. This law was enacted to protect pedestrians and bicyclists, particularly school age children, from being struck by vehicles in school zones.
RS 32:300.8 states that it is illegal for any motorist to use a wireless telecommunications device to engage in a call, write, send, or read a text-based communication, or access, read, or post to a social networking site while in a school zone during its posted hours of operation.
Note: Motorists over the age of 18 with a full license may lawfully make a phone call in a school zone only if it is hands-free.
Fines for using your cell phone in a Louisiana school zone range from $500 for a first-time offense to $1,000 for subsequent offenses, plus suspension of your driver’s license for 60 days. If the driver is involved in a car accident because of texting and driving or using social media, the fine is doubled.
Can You Wear Headphones While Driving in Louisiana?
It is illegal to wear a full set of headphones while driving in the state of Louisiana. Per RS 32:295.2, motorists may not wear headphones, headsets, or listening devices (other than hearing aids) if the devices cover both ears or are inserted into both ears. That being said, the law does allow drivers to utilize headphones, earbuds, or headsets so long as only one ear is covered by the listening device.
This law excepts law enforcement officers, emergency vehicle operators, or motorcyclists who use a headset that is installed in a helmet. However, note that riders should still be able to hear surrounding sounds while using the headset.
Is it Illegal to Eat and Drive in Louisiana?
There is currently no law in Louisiana which prohibits eating or drinking while driving. However, experts warn that eating food or drinking a beverage while behind the wheel is a form of distracted driving and should be avoided. Eating and drinking behind the wheel is particularly problematic because it often involves manual, visual, and cognitive distraction. A 2014 study even found that drivers distracted by food or drinks are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Injured in a Distracted Driving Crash? We Can Help!
While you may be committed to obeying distracted driving laws in Louisiana, you can’t always control what other drivers do on the road. If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver, Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys is here to help. Our attorneys will fight to make sure responsible drivers and insurance companies are held accountable for their actions.
Our legal team offers free consultations for every potential client, and we charge no fee unless we win your case. Call one of the numbers below to schedule your free consultation with our car accident lawyers, chat with us online, or submit your case details using our secure contact form.
The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.