Use of Personal Communication Device While Driving (CDL vs. Non-CDL)

In Kentucky, the use of a ‘personal communication device’, most commonly a cell phone, is prohibited while operating a motor vehicle in motion, i.e. driving.


For minors (those individuals under the age of 18), KRS 189.294(2) states that “Any person under the age of eighteen (18) who has been issued an instruction permit, intermediate license, or operator’s license shall not operate a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or moped that is in motion on the traveled portion of a roadway while using a personal communication device…”

The only exception to the minor usage rule is if the use involves the “summon[ing of] medical help or a law enforcement or public safety agency in an emergency situation.”

Furthermore, it states that “[u]se of a personal communication device does not include a stand-alone global positioning system [GPS], a global positioning or navigation system that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle, or an in-vehicle security, diagnostics, and communications system, but does include manually entering information into the global positioning system feature of a personal communication device.”

So, as long as the information is entered prior to vehicle being in motion, there would be no violation.

Finally, this usage does “not apply to the use of a citizens band radio or an amateur radio by a motor vehicle operator.”


For adults in non-commercial vehicles, KRS 189.292 is the statute on point. It states that “no person shall, while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion on the traveled portion of a roadway, write, send,
or read text-based communication using a personal communication device to manually communicate with any person using text-based communication, including but not limited to communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.”

It does, however, provide a list of exceptions:

It shall not apply to:

“(a) The use of a global positioning system feature of a personal communication device;

(b) The use of a global positioning or navigation system that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle;

(c) The reading, selecting, or entering of a telephone number or name in a personal communication device for the purpose of making a phone call;

(d) An operator of an emergency or public safety vehicle, when the use of a personal communication device is an essential function of the operator’s official duties; or

(e) The operator of a motor vehicle who writes a text message on a personal communication device to:

1. Report illegal activity;
2. Summon medical help;
3. Summon a law enforcement or public safety agency; or
4. Prevent injury to a person or property


CDL holders are subject to the Federal Standard, so the The Code of Federal Regulations (or CFR) applies to Commercial Licensed Drivers (CDL) in Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV).

49 CFR 392.82 Using a hand-held mobile telephone.

(a) (1) No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV.

(2) No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV.

(b) Definitions. For the purpose of this section only, driving means operating a commercial motor vehicle on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

(c) Emergency exception. Using a hand-held mobile telephone is permissible by drivers of a CMV when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services.

49 CFR 390.5 Definitions.

Unless specifically defined elsewhere, in this subchapter:
Use a hand-held mobile telephone means:

(1) Using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication;

(2) Dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or

(3) Reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt that is installed in accordance with 49 CFR 393.93 and adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.

So, although the rules are slightly different for CDL and non-CDL holders, the basic concept is the same: Using our cellular phone to call, text, email, or GPS is prohibited unless there is an emergency situation.

If you or a loved one has been charged with using a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle, whether commercial or not, you need competent and experienced counsel to help you with your case. Do not delay, call Larry Forman today.


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