Is Texting While Driving Legal in Missouri?


Missouri State Law on the Use of Cell Phones While Driving

Currently, Missouri is one of two states in the country that does not prohibit texting while driving for all drivers. House Bill 241, introduced by Representative Jeff Porter earlier this year, is seeking to change that. If successful, the bill would eliminate the under 21 age limitation and make it unlawful for anyone to text and drive.

At Bishop & Hayes, we represent individuals who have been injured in Missouri auto accidents. Our practice focuses solely on auto injury law, ensuring that our clients receive dedicated, personalized representation. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident, contact our office at (417) 304-3228 to book your free consultation today.

Is it Illegal to Text and Drive in Missouri?

If you are under the age of 21, state law prohibits you from sending, reading, or writing text messages or electronic messages. Additionally, under the Missouri Revisor of Statutes Section 304.820, it is unlawful for individuals who are operating a commercial vehicle to text or use a hand-held mobile telephone.

Limited exceptions to the ban on texting and driving include:

  • The person is operating an authorized emergency vehicle;
  • It is necessary to report illegal activity;
  • It is being used to summon emergency help;
  • It is required to prevent injury to a person or property; or
  • If the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle and it is used to relay information between a for-hire operator and a dispatcher.

Missouri law does not make it illegal for someone who is over the age of 21 to text and drive, but some lawmakers want that changed. In January 2021, HB 241 was introduced and currently sits in committee. The bill seeks to “prohibit the use of hand-held wireless communication devices by drivers of any age.”

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. The issue is not age-specific. Individuals of all ages admit to using cell phones and texting while driving. 

Research by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety shows:

  • Approximately 70% of the drivers using cell phones in traffic accidents were at least 22 years old. 
  • 12 of 15 states that implemented hands-free laws saw a significant decrease in fatality rates within two years. 
  • On average, the fatality rate decreased by 15.3%. 
  • Six states and the District of Columbia saw a decrease of over 20%.

Distracted driving is a widespread problem that affects every driver on Missouri roadways. If you are injured by someone that was texting while driving, you might be entitled to compensation.

Injured in an Auto Accident? Get Legal Help Today.

If you were injured in a Missouri car accident, contact our office to discuss your case. Every client is represented by a partner with the firm, ensuring that your case is handled right from start to finish. 

We only handle auto injury law so that we can commit all of our time, energy, and resources to those injured in traffic accidents. Our partners proudly serve all of Missouri with offices located in Joplin and Springfield. Contact Bishop & Hayes today at (417) 304-3228 to book your free consultation. 

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