[Quiz] Which of these driving behaviors are actually illegal?

Are you accidentally committing crimes behind the wheel?

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Susan Meyer

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Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

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Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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If you’ve been driving for a while, you (hopefully) know most of the driving laws in your state. You know to obey the speed limits and if you’re allowed to turn right on red or not. But what about some of the lesser-known laws?

For example…can you drive barefoot? How about with both feet (one for gas and one for brakes)? How about driving with your Pomchi Floyd in your lap? 

Take our quiz to test your knowledge. Then come back for a little more context on these laws and why they exist. 

What are the laws in your state?

If you haven't taken the quiz yet, be aware that spoilers lie ahead!

If you have taken the quiz, you know that some of what is legal in one state is not legal in others. Here's your cheat sheet for the quiz above.

Is it legal to drive barefoot? 

Yes, in all states. More information on that here

Is it legal to drive with both feet? 

Yes, in all states. More information on that here

Is it legal to drive with headphones? 

This one depends on what state you live in. This table shows the legality and specific restrictions by state[1]:

  Is it legal or illegal to drive with headphones? Exemptions?
Alabama Legal n/a
Alaska Illegal No
Arizona  Legal n/a
Arkansas Legal n/a
California Illegal No
Colorado Illegal Yes - one earbud can be used for cell phone calls
Connecticut Legal n/a
Delaware Legal n/a
Florida Illegal Yes - one earbud can be used for cell phone calls
Georgia Illegal Yes - can be used for cell phone calls
Hawaii Legal Not applicable
Idaho Legal Not applicable
Illinois Illegal Yes - one earbud can be used 
Indiana Legal Not applicable
Iowa Legal Not applicable
Kansas Legal Not applicable
Kentucky Legal Not applicable
Louisiana Illegal No
Maine Legal Not applicable
Maryland Illegal No
Massachusetts Illegal Yes - can be used for navigation purposes, one earbud can also be used
Michigan Legal Not applicable
Minnesota Illegal No
Mississippi Legal Not applicable
Missouri Legal Not applicable
Montana Legal Not applicable
Nebraska Legal Not applicable
Nevada Legal Not applicable
New Hampshire Legal Not applicable
New Jersey Legal Not applicable
New Mexico Legal Not applicable
New York Illegal Yes - one earbud can be used 
North Carolina Legal Not applicable
North Dakota Legal Not applicable
Ohio Illegal No
Oklahoma Legal Not applicable
Oregon Legal Not applicable
Pennsylvania Illegal Yes - one earbud can be used for cell phone calls
Rhode Island Illegal Yes - one earbud can be used for cell phone calls
South Carolina Legal Not applicable
South Dakota Legal Not applicable
Tennessee Legal Not applicable
Texas Legal Not applicable
Utah Legal Not applicable
Vermont Legal Not applicable
Virginia Illegal No
Washington Illegal No
West Virginia Legal Not applicable
Wisconsin Legal Not applicable
Wyoming Legal Not applicable

You can also get greater context on driving with headphones laws here

Is it legal to drive with a hand-held cell phone? 

Many states have cracked down both on hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving in recent years. All states but Montana outlaw texting while driving. As for hand-held cell phone use that's outlawed in all of the following, with the exception of emergency calls[1].

  Hand-held devices while driving are legal?
Alabama Illegal
Alaska Legal
Arizona  Illegal
Arkansas Legal
California Illegal
Colorado Legal
Connecticut Illegal
Delaware Illegal
Florida Legal
Georgia Illegal
Hawaii Illegal
Idaho Illegal
Illinois Illegal
Indiana Illegal
Iowa Legal
Kansas Legal
Kentucky Legal
Louisiana Legal
Maine Illegal
Maryland Illegal
Massachusetts Illegal
Michigan Illegal
Minnesota Illegal
Mississippi Legal
Missouri Illegal
Montana Legal
Nebraska Legal
Nevada Illegal
New Hampshire Illegal
New Jersey Illegal
New Mexico Legal
New York Illegal
North Carolina Legal
North Dakota Legal
Ohio Legal
Oklahoma Legal
Oregon Illegal
Pennsylvania Legal
Rhode Island Illegal
South Carolina Legal
South Dakota Legal
Tennessee Illegal
Texas Legal
Utah Legal
Vermont Illegal
Virginia Illegal
Washington Illegal
West Virginia Illegal
Wisconsin Legal
Wyoming Legal

Is it legal to vape while driving?

Yes, this, like smoking a cigarette while driving, is legal in all states, provided it does not distract you from obeying all other road rules.

Is it legal to drive with a pet on your lap?

Currently, there are no federal laws that require pets to be restrained while traveling in vehicles or avoid riding in the laps of drivers; however, some states have laws on the books[2].

  Laws regarding animals in vehicles 
Alabama None.
Alaska None.
Arizona  Driver can be fined for distracted driving if animal is in lap. 
Arkansas None.
California None.
Colorado None.
Connecticut Driver can be fined for distracted driving if animals is in lap.
Delaware None.
Florida None.
Georgia None.
Hawaii Animal is required to be restrained safely and out of the drivers' area.
Idaho None.
Illinois None. 
Indiana None. 
Iowa Could be fined based on obstructed view laws for having animal in lap.
Kansas None.
Kentucky None.
Louisiana None.
Maine Drive could be fined based on distracted driving laws for animal in lap
Maryland None.
Massachusetts Driver could be fined based on distracted driving laws for animal in lap
Michigan None.
Minnesota None.
Mississippi None.
Missouri None.
Montana None.
Nebraska None.
Nevada None.
New Hampshire None.
New Jersey Pets in moving vehicles must ride in carrier or wear a seat belt. 
New Mexico None.
New York None.
North Carolina None. 
North Dakota None.
Ohio None.
Oklahoma None.
Oregon None.
Pennsylvania None.
Rhode Island Pet must be under the physical control of someone other than the driver or be in a carrier, harness or seat belt.
South Carolina Driver can be fined for negligence for animal in lap if it creates an unsafe situation.
South Dakota None.
Tennessee None.
Texas None.
Utah None.
Vermont None.
Virginia None.
Washington Driver could be fined for distracted driving due to pet in lap.
West Virginia None.
Wisconsin Driving with a pet in lap violates inattentive driving law.
Wyoming None.

The importance of driving without distractions

Many of the behaviors on this quiz, whether legal in your state or not, represent potential distractions that can take your eyes or attention off the road. 

Distracted driving is a growing cause for concern for lawmakers, as around 3,000 people die each year due to distracted driving. And it can be hard to keep up with technology when it comes to outlawing different behaviors while operating a moving vehicle. 

For example, one question many people are asking (which was not included in the quiz for lack of clear answers) was: Can you Facetime while driving? If you're holding the device in your hand and you live in a hands-free state then the answer is obviously no. But what if your device is mounted in the vehicle? Currently, there aren't a lot of laws specifically outlawing it, despite a video call being significantly more distracting than say a voice call.

How do you spell out exactly what is okay and what is not in the face of ever-evolving technology? These are the questions lawmakers are grappling with as they try to keep pace with the newest distractions.

In the meantime, we as drivers can only do our best to not only follow all applicable state laws, but also use common sense as we avoid distractions behind the wheel.