Is It Illegal to Drive with Headphones?

We all love to listen to our favorite songs whilst driving. It can keep us going, keep our spirits up and help us enjoy those long drives on the road.

However, it can be so irritating if there is nothing good playing on the car radio, and you may be tempted to drive with your headphones on to listen to your favorite tunes.

Headphones can be great for hearing high quality music and sound wherever life takes you, they are highly portable and you may love to take them with you when commuting to work.

However, you should not use headphones when you are operating any vehicle for a multitude of different reasons. 

Is it illegal to drive with headphones

When driving a vehicle, the safety of yourself, you passengers and other road users is paramount. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are keeping an eye on the road, any possible hazards and dangerous situations that may arise.

Driving with headphones on can be highly dangerous, because headphones can often be noise cancelling, or overpower any sounds outside of the speakers. This can mean that your senses are limited when driving.

For instance, you may not be able to hear another vehicle alerting you of a potential danger by sounding their horn, or in addition, you will not be able to hear an emergency vehicle’s sirens drawing nearer.

This means that you are limited in your ability to operate a vehicle properly. For these reasons, it is not advisable to ever wear headphones whilst driving. Whilst wearing headphones when driving is unrecommended and frowned upon, it is also illegal in many states.

To make sure that you are adhering to your local laws and always driving responsibly, you will need to check whether it is illegal to drive with headphones on in your state.

Is it illegal to drive with headphones on?

Many states have actually lawed wearing headphones whilst driving as illegal, and dangerous towards yourself and other road users. However, in various other states, there are no laws regarding the use of headphones whilst driving.

While it may not be illegal in many states, you should still remember that driving with headphones or earphones will restrict your ability to hear the environment around you, and it is highly dangerous, posing a risk to other drivers.

On the other hand, there are some states where there are exceptions to the rule, when headphones or earphones are used for navigational or cell phone communicative purposes.

To help you understand what rules and regulations apply to you, we have created a comprehensive guide of which states it is currently illegal and legal to wear headphones whilst driving.

Where is it illegal to drive with headphones on?

In the following states it is in fact illegal to drive with headphones on:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Where is it legal to drive with headphones on?

Here is a list of all of the states in which it is currently legal to drive with headphones:

  • Arkansas
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
driving with headphones

Where are there exceptions to driving with headphones on?

In many states, driving with headphones is actually illegal, however there are a few exceptions to the rule. For example, these exceptions may be to use earphones for navigational purposes, or for using a communication device hands free safely.

To see if this is the case in your state, we have made a list of all of the states with current exemptions to the law:

Arizona - school bus drivers and child care providers are not permitted to use headphone when driving at all

Colorado - headphones or earphones are illegal except when used to cell phone calls in only one ear

Florida - headphones or earphones are illegal except when used for cell phone calls in one ear only

Georgia - it is illegal to use headphones or earphones except when used for cell phone calls

Illinois - it is illegal to use headphones or earphones except when used in only one ear

Massachusetts - earphones and headphones can only be used to navigational purposes

New York - headphones and earphones can only be used in one ear whilst driving

- it is illegal to use headphones and earphones whilst driving except when used in one ear only for cell phone calls.

Why you should drive without headphones

It is well known that most car and vehicle accidents happen because of a distracted or dangerous driver.

If you are listening to music through headphones or earphones whilst driving, you are actively limiting your ability to concentrate on the road ahead of you and the environment in which you are driving.

With headphones or earphones on, you will not be able to hear horns, nearby crashes, or any sounds that can alert you to any issues on the road. You may also be distracted by your favourite music, which can cause accidents or incidents with other road users.

If you cannot drive without some background music, then you do not always have to use your headphones. Most modern mobile devices and vehicles will either have an AUX port or Bluetooth technology.

This way, you can either connect your phone or music device through an AUX cable, or connect via Bluetooth in order to stream your music through your vehicle’s speakers.


To conclude, it is not illegal in every state to wear headphones whilst driving, however it is illegal in a select few.

We recommend that you do not wear headphones or earphones over both ears when driving, as you will not be able to hear sounds or issues on the road, and may be putting yourself and others at risk.


Thank you for visiting. This website is for informational purposes only. None of the information provided is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute, legal advice, and none of the information necessarily reflects the opinions of Misty Rock Capital LLC dba or anyone associated, employed or affiliated with Misty Rock Capital LLC dba