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Is Driving With Headphones Illegal?


Driving with music is a necessity for many people and the temptation to drive with headphones can be strong. However, before giving into the temptation of plugging your ears with headphones, a question you should ask is, is driving with headphones illegal?

The answer to that question will depend on the state you reside. For some states, it’s illegal while for other states there are specific conditions in which driving with headphones is illegal.

This article explains all you need to know about the legality of driving with headphones and the possible penalties for breaking the law.

States In The US Where It Is Illegal To Drive With Headphones

In the United States, there are states where that expressly forbid motorists to drive while using headphones. These states are:

  • Washington
  • Minnesota
  • Louisiana
  • Ohio
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Alaska
  • Rhode Island
  • California
Gir Driving Car With Headphone

In the above states, you will be in breach of the law if you’re caught driving with headphones on. There are however states where driving with headphones is not expressly illegal but there are certain restrictions in place regarding its use.

In the states of Florida, Colorado, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois it’s legal to use only one ear to receive calls. Using two ears of the headphones while driving is illegal.

In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to use headphones while driving except for navigational purposes.

In Arizona, it’s illegal for school bus drivers and child caregivers to drive with headphones on.

Why You Shouldn’t Drive With Headphones

Driving with headphones reduces external noise and also makes it easy to pick up phone calls. However, it’s also a dangerous act that’s not advisable.

If you reside in a state where there’s no law prohibiting the use of headphones while driving, you might still want to err on the side of caution.

These are some of the dangers that come with driving with headphones.

Reduced Awareness

When you’re on headphones, it reduces the chances of hearing other motorists honk their cars. This reduces your awareness of what’s going on around you and it puts you in a dangerous position.


It’s much easier to get distracted when driving with headphones, especially if you’re listening to music. When distracted, you will react slowly to situations around you.

Risk Of Accident

Reduced awareness and the divided attention that comes with driving with headphones can lead to avoidable accidents. Inability to hear honks or react quickly can lead to avoidable fender benders.

Penalties For Driving With Headphones

In states where the law prohibits driving with headphones, doing otherwise will put you in breach of the law. If you get pulled over for driving with headphones, you can be written a ticket of up to $100.

In some states, driving with headphones can fall under dangerous driving in some situations. This can attract up to $200 in fines or a jail time of up to 30 days.

Consequences Of Using Headphones While In An Accident

If you happen to be in an accident while using headphones, you can find yourself at a disadvantage. The other party can claim distraction on your part because of the headphones. Such a claim, if true, can make you look guilty and also reduce your compensation if you’re entitled to any.

Similarly, your insurance company may refuse to take responsibility for any damages to your car if you’re driving with headphones on. The insurer may claim you were negligent by driving with headphones.

Alternatives To Driving With Headphones

Driving with headphones has some benefits which make it attractive. However, there are alternatives that can provide similar benefits without the accompanying risks.

man drive without headphone and using car audio system

Instead of driving with headphones, you can use a car wireless sound system that can connect to your phone. The sound system can play music as well as for picking calls.

There are different types of Bluetooth car kits you can purchase as an alternative to driving with headphones. A car Bluetooth kit comes with extra features such as a car touch screen, charging port, car digital radio, etc.

You can find the car Bluetooth that fits your budget and which is easy to install and use. This will eliminate the risk of driving with headphones and the penalty it attracts.

The car wireless device works with the car’s sound system, so it doesn’t provide the privacy headphones give. However, if you’re driving with a passenger in the car and you get a private phone call, you can park and excuse yourself.


Driving with headphones is not an act that the law encourages even when there’s no provision to the contrary.

If you suffer an accident while driving with headphones, you can be at a disadvantage with the law and your insurance company. Hence it’s better to adopt a safer alternative to driving with headphones.

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