Is it Illegal to Drive with Headphones?

While there isn’t a federal law specifically prohibiting the use of headphones or earbuds while driving, the legality of this practice can vary significantly from state to state. Some states outright ban the use of headphones while driving, with a few exceptions for certain types of earbuds or for single-ear headsets. Other states have more lenient regulations or no specific laws on the matter. Therefore, it is essential for drivers to familiarize themselves with their local and state laws regarding the use of headphones while operating a vehicle.

In What States Is Wearing Headphones Illegal?

The states that do not allow you to drive with headphones while driving are: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Virginia, and Washington. However, there are some exceptions within these states for certain drivers (e.g., emergency services personnel). Further, the laws regarding headphone usage are rapidly evolving, so it is important to check the specifics of each state’s law.

States Where Wearing Headphones is Illegal, With Exceptions

Several states have laws prohibiting the use of headphones while driving, but there are specific exceptions to these rules. Here are some of those exceptions:

  • Using one earbud for any purpose: Use of a single ear piece is permitted in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Washington D.C.
  • Using one earbud for phone calls is permitted: Use of a single ear piece to make or take a phone call is permitted in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
  • Using one earbud to improve hearing or for GPS: Use of a single earpiece for improving hearing or GPS is permitted in Alaska.
  • Using one earbud for GPS only: Use of a single earpiece for GPS only is permitted in Massachusetts.

It is essential to remember that these rules can be subject to change. You should always consult your state’s specific laws or regulations related to driving with headphones or earbuds. See the table below with links to each state’s laws before you drive with headphones.

In What States Is Wearing Headphones Legal?

In some states, there are currently no specific laws against wearing headphones or earbuds while driving. This does not necessarily mean it’s safe or recommended to drive with headphones; rather, it simply hasn’t been explicitly outlawed.

The states where it is legal to wear headphones while driving are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Even if it’s not illegal, wearing headphones while driving can be a distraction. Furthermore, laws are subject to change, and while these states might not have specific restrictions now, they may in the future. Always stay updated with your local and state laws before taking a drive with headphones.

Dangers of Driving With Headphones

Driving with headphones or earbuds can be a hazardous practice, primarily due to the potential distractions and the diminished ability to perceive important auditory signals from the environment. Here are some key reasons why it’s dangerous to drive with headphones:

  • Impaired Awareness: Headphones can block out important audio cues that drivers need to safely navigate the road, such as the honking of horns, the sirens of emergency vehicles, or the sounds of approaching vehicles.
  • Increased Distraction: Listening to loud music or engaging in phone conversations can become a major distraction, causing drivers to lose focus on their primary task: safe driving.
  • Delayed Reaction Time: Being engrossed in the audio from your headphones can hinder your reaction time to unexpected events on the road.
  • Risk of Entanglement: The wires from earbuds or headphones can become a physical distraction, potentially getting tangled with the steering wheel or other controls in the car.
  • Potential for Higher Speeds: Some studies suggest that listening to fast-paced music can inadvertently lead drivers to increase their speed, thereby increasing the risk of accidents.

Even if it’s legal to drive with headphones in your state, consider the risks. It’s always safer to keep your auditory senses fully available when you’re behind the wheel.

What to Do if You are in a Wreck With a Driver Wearing Headphones

If you find yourself in a collision with a driver who was wearing headphones, here are some steps you should take:

  • Ensure Safety: First and foremost, check your safety and the safety of others involved in the accident. If anyone is injured, call for medical help immediately.
  • Contact Authorities: Dial the local authorities or 911 to report the accident.
  • Document the Scene: If it’s safe and you’re able to do so, take photos or videos of the accident scene, including the other driver if they were visibly wearing headphones at the time of the accident.
  • Gather Witness Statements: If there were witnesses to the accident, gather their contact information for future reference. They can help support your claim that the other driver was wearing headphones.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Contact our accident attorneys who specialize in traffic accidents. They can guide you on the next steps and help you navigate any necessary legal proceedings.
  • File an Insurance Claim: Contact your insurance company to inform them about the accident. Provide them with all the necessary details and documentation to support your claim.
  • Keep Record of Medical Treatments: If you’ve suffered injuries, keep track of your medical treatments and expenses. These records can be crucial when claiming compensation for your injuries.
  • Follow Up: Stay proactive in following up on your claims and legal proceedings. Be sure to reply to any correspondence and meet all deadlines.

Remember, every accident is unique, and this is a general guide. Always consult with a professional to understand your best course of action regarding what to do after an accident.

How Thompson Law Can Help

At Thompson Law, we understand the complexities of dealing with traffic accidents, especially when they involve drivers distracted by headphones. If you’ve been hit by a driver wearing headphones and have sustained injuries, we’re here to provide you with support every step of the way. We offer FREE CONSULTATIONS, giving you the opportunity to discuss your case with an experienced attorney without worrying about the cost.

Our “No Win, No Fee” policy means you pay nothing until we secure a successful resolution for your case. Our team is committed to fighting for your rights and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. Let us shoulder the legal burdens while you focus on your recovery. Contact Thompson Law today for your free case review.

No Win No Fee for Personal Injury Case - The States Where Is it Illegal to Drive with Headphones, and States Which Permit Driving with Headphones

Where Can You Drive With Headphones?

The following table provides a comprehensive overview of the legal status of driving with headphones in every state in the United States, including exceptions and links to related statutes.

State Driving with Headphones:  Legal or Illegal If Illegal, are there any exceptions? Statutes for States Where Headphone Use is Illegal
Alabama Legal
Alaska Illegal When used to improve driver’s hearing ability or for GPS Alaska Stat. § 13.04.260
Arizona  Legal Ariz. Stat. § 28-914
Arkansas Legal
California Illegal No Cal. Veh. Code § 27400
Colorado Illegal Only one earbud is permitted C.R.S. § 42-4-1411
Connecticut Legal
Delaware Legal
Florida Illegal Only one earbud is permitted F.S.A. § 316.304
Georgia Illegal One earbud is permitted for calls only O.C.G.A. § 40-6-250
Hawaii Legal
Idaho Legal
Illinois Illegal Only one earbud is permitted 625 I.L.C.S. § 5/12/610
Indiana Legal
Iowa Legal
Kansas Legal
Kentucky Legal
Louisiana Illegal No La. R.S. § 32:295.2
Maine Legal
Maryland Illegal No Md. Code, Trans. Law § 21-1120
Massachusetts Illegal One earbud is permitted for GPS use Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 90 § 13
Michigan Legal
Minnesota Illegal No M.S.A. § 169.471
Mississippi Legal
Missouri Legal
Montana Legal
Nebraska Legal
Nevada Legal
New Hampshire Legal
New Jersey Legal
New Mexico Legal
New York Illegal Only one earbud is permitted N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 375-24a
North Carolina Legal
North Dakota Legal
Ohio Illegal Only one earbud is permitted Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.84
Oklahoma Legal
Oregon Legal
Pennsylvania Illegal One earbud is permitted for calls only 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3314
Rhode Island Illegal One earbud is permitted for calls only R.I.G.L. § 31-22-30
South Carolina Legal
South Dakota Legal
Tennessee Legal
Texas Legal
Utah Legal
Vermont Legal
Virginia Illegal No Va. St. § 46.2-1078
Washington Illegal No R.C.W.A. § 46.37.480
Washington D.C. Illegal Only one earbud is permitted DC Code § 50-1731.04
West Virginia Legal
Wisconsin Legal
Wyoming Legal


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