Using Your Phone at a Red Light: Is It Legal in NC?

red light on

No, it’s not. It’s illegal to use a cell phone for texting or email, including while stopped at a red light while operating a motor vehicle in North Carolina. North Carolina law does allow talking on a cell phone by passenger vehicle drivers over the age of 18. Most drivers understand the dangers of texting while driving, some unfortunately think it’s OK to make a quick check of recent texts or emails while stopped at a red light.

The North Carolina distracted driving accident lawyers at Hardison & Cochran will vigorously pursue accident claims on behalf of people injured by distracted drivers who were texting or emailing while driving. During the past 30-plus years, we’ve helped thousands of victims of negligent drivers in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina seek justice and financial accountability.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver, call Hardison & Cochran at (800) 434-8399 today for a free legal consultation.

North Carolina’s Cell Phone Laws for Drivers

North Carolina has adopted several statutes addressing drivers’ use of mobile telephones in recent years.

The primary statute is N.C.G.S. 20-137.4A, which says:

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a vehicle on a public street or highway while using a mobile telephone to:

(1) Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or

(2) Read any electronic mail or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device. (This does not apply to any name or number stored in the device for caller identification.)

Elsewhere, N.C.G.S. 20-4.01(25) establishes that “A person in actual control of a vehicle which has the engine running is considered to be the vehicle’s operator.

The prohibition on using a cell phone to email or text does not apply if the vehicle is lawfully parked or the engine is off, or if an adult is using voice-command technology. It does not apply to information from GPS systems.

If you are driving with a learner’s permit, it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving on a public street or highway.

Penalties for Using Phone at A Red Light

A traffic violation involving the use of a cell phone while operating a vehicle is punishable by a fine of $100 and court costs for a fully licensed adult and by a fine of $25 for a permit or provisional license holder. No driver’s license points are applied for violations of these statutes.

Schedule a Free Case Review with Our Experienced Raleigh Car Accident Attorneys

Any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, or focus away from the task of driving can cause a distracted driving accident. If you suspect that the driver who caused your accident was distracted, consult with a distracted driving accident lawyer at Hardison & Cochran. We may be able to help you seek compensation for your medical bills and accident losses.

Call Hardison & Cochran toll-free at (800) 434-8399 today or fill out our online contact form.

About the Author

Hardison & Cochran was established based on the conviction that a modern approach was essential in today’s legal landscape. Focused on delivering exceptional results through a skilled team, the firm prioritizes personal attention, integrity, and client needs. Each attorney, paralegal, and staff member is dedicated to this vision. Over three decades, with Ben Cochran overseeing daily operations, the firm has evolved into a highly respected practice.