Is it Illegal to Drive with Headphones?

There is no feeling quite like driving with your favorite music blasting, is there? Whether you find it relaxing or have the best car show performance of your life, we can all agree it speeds long journeys. 

But what happens when your stereo system breaks? Or you need to take an important call? That, my friends, is often when we turn to our headphones for the answer. We can pop them into our ears, listen to our music, talk on the phone, or stream our favorite podcasts. 

We see countless drivers on the road with little white wires dangling from their ears. But is it legal? You might be wondering the same thing we were: is it illegal to drive with headphones?

Well, today we are going to find out! Keep reading to find out whether it is illegal to drive with headphones or not!

Is it illegal to drive with headphones

Is it illegal to drive with headphones?

Let’s get straight into it! Driving with headphones is illegal across many states in America. Some states have exceptions to when you can drive with headphones, and the remainder allows it. 

You will need to check your state’s laws and any other state you might find yourself driving in to avoid a charge. But thankfully for you, you needn’t go far! We’ve got that list ready to go for you! 

Driving with headphones is illegal in: 

It is worth noting that the laws we are looking at today do not include hearing aids, earpieces for cell phones, or built-in intercoms for helmets. In the following states, it is illegal to drive with headphones in use: 

  • Alaska 
  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Ohio
  • Rhode island
  • Virginia 
  • Washington

The punishment for driving with headphones will vary from state to state, but more than likely, you will be handed a fine or even points on your license!

Are there exceptions?

In some states, driving with headphones in use is not entirely illegal; there are some exceptions to the rule. Let’s take a look at those now. 

In Arizona, you may drive with headphones unless you are a school bus driver or childcare provider. It is illegal for people in those employment categories to use them while working. 

In Georgia, driving with headphones is illegal unless being used to take cell phone calls. Make sure your headphones are connected to your phone and are easy to reach. It is often best to pull over to insert them, as it can be distracting to do so while driving. 

In Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania, they have the same law. It is illegal to drive with headphones except when using one ear for a cell phone call. Using two earbuds is not permitted, so be sure only to use one earpiece for phone calls. 

In Illinois and New York, the same rule applies. Driving with headphones is illegal unless you are just using one ear. Unlike other states, they do not specify what the headphones need to be used for, so you can play music or take a call worry-free!

In Massachusetts, driving with headphones is illegal except when using them for navigational purposes. Here, the law does not state whether you can only have your headphones in one ear or two. So, let your directions whisper sweet nothings into your ear as you drive across the state! 

You will need to be mindful when driving into another state of the laws regarding driving with headphones in. you might need to pull over to remove them to ensure you are not breaking any rules! 

Where is it legal?

In some states, it is entirely legal to drive with headphones, no matter the circumstance. Let’s look at these states now! 

  • Alabama 
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia 
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana 
  • Nebraska 
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire 
  • New Jersey 
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma 
  • South Carolina 
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee 
  • Texas 
  • Utah 
  • Vermont 
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin 
  • Wyoming 

That’s a lot of states where you can pop your headphones in and drive! 

Should you drive with headphones in?

Now that we have covered where you can and can’t use your headphones when driving, let’s consider if we should use headphones when driving. After all, some states have made the action illegal for a reason! 

In some cases driving with your headphones in can be quite dangerous. Now we aren’t saying for a second that you need perfect hearing to drive (or any hearing for that matter!), but using your headphones could be distracting. 

Having them placed in your ear blaring music or listening to a friend chatter away could mean you don’t hear sirens wailing behind you or another vehicle honking.

The same way that loud music through your stereo system or talking on the phone can be distracting, headphones should be used with the same caution. 

To safely use headphones while driving, you will need to minimize your distractions as much as possible. It is best to have them in place before you begin your journey to avoid fiddling with them as you drive.

Reaching to another seat to grab them and connect them to your phone and place them in your ears is going to be a huge distraction while driving! 

If you need to insert your headphones during the journey, it is best to pull over to a safe space. This will allow you plenty of time to insert your headphones correctly and ensure you are comfortable before continuing with your journey.

Not only is this safer for you, but other drivers and pedestrians on the road. 

Final Word 

So, is it illegal to drive with headphones? It all depends on the state you are driving in! The laws change from illegal to some exceptions to legal across the country! It is legal to drive with headphones in use in most states, but be sure to check if your driving involves crossing any state lines! 

Remember to be careful when using your headphones and avoid making any adjustments or inserting them while driving!