49 CFR 392.80 – No Texting While Driving a CMV

texting while driving

The Law Regarding Texting While Driving

This particular law is federal in origin, and most states have adopted the language of this law and incorporated it into their administrative code. The federal statute reads:

§ 392.80 Prohibition against texting.

(a)Prohibition. No driver shall engage in texting while driving.

(b)Motor carriers. No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to engage in texting while driving.

(c)Definition. For the purpose of this section only, driving means operating a commercial motor vehicle, with the motor running, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle with or without the motor running when the driver moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway, as defined in 49 CFR 390.5, and halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

(d)Emergency exception. Texting while driving is permissible by drivers of a commercial motor vehicle when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services.

What does the law mean and who does it apply to?

In short, this law prohibits drivers of commercial motor vehicle from texting while driving.

What are the consequences of being found guilty of texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle?

This violation is treated as a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. This means there is the potential for up to six months in jail, and $2,500 in fines plus surcharges, which would nearly double the fine. In practice, jail time is unlikely and the fine will be less than the maximum.


The cop couldn’t see into the defendant’s vehicle to observe the violation.

We are always surprised with how cops claim to be able to see the interior of a commercial motor vehicle while driving along at highway speeds, especially when a truck, for example, is usually much higher than a police vehicle. Regardless, many cops claim to have magic x-ray vision and will issue tickets for texting when no texting has taken place. So as you might gather, the ability of the cop to have observed the alleged violation is one area we challenge.

The defendant was NOT texting.

The driver may be able to obtain phone records that show he or she was not texting at the time of the alleged violation.


2 Comments on “49 CFR 392.80 – No Texting While Driving a CMV”

  1. 49 CMV 309.17 Driver looking at pictures while driving? Where in the DOT rules does it state that a driver is forbidden to even look at his phone? It Doesn’t! So how can a HP write a violation that does not exist?

    1. We have had instances of police officers issuing citations for violations that did not actually exist. Sometimes these are resolved quickly when the prosecutor realizes what is going on, other times the driver is put in the unfortunate position of having to defend himself against the charge. We also see officers writing tickets when the facts do not match the alleged violation, which again leaves the driver in the unjust position of having to defend against a charge that should have never been brought. If you would like to discuss your case in more detail and talk about options, give us a call at 480-626-5415.

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