Can You Wear Headphones / Earbuds / Earphones While Driving?

Headphones or earbuds have become such a crucial part of our life that we never leave our house without them. Listening to music or singling along to our favorite tracks has always been something we enjoy while driving. However, have you ever considered the legal implications of wearing headphones while driving? 

Many countries have different laws on the use of headphones while driving a vehicle. In the united states, these rules can vary according to the state. If you are living in a state, you can easily find out what is permissible in your state laws. However, if you are planning a visit to a different state or a country altogether, then it would be advantageous to learn about the specific laws. Knowing is it illegal to drive while wearing headphones will save you from any penalties. 

 is it illegal to drive while wearing headphones

Does the law allow you to wear headphones while driving? 

Driving rules and regulations are different all around the world. Certain governments allow certain actions and are lenient or strict. There is no universal law on driving which is why the answer to the question, Can you wear headphones while driving? Changes according to your location. 

In many countries, using headphones is legal as long as it does not cause you any distractions. These places consider the headphones to be similar to the use of a stereo system in the car. As long as you are aware of your surrounding while driving and drive responsibly, using headphones is not a problem. 

However, there are a few countries and states that can penalize you for the use of headphones or earbuds while driving. You can be fined and can even get the point taken off your license. As you read on, you will find out the laws according to different countries or states. Once you are done with the information provided in this article, you will always be following the law when you are driving while wearing headphones or earphones.

wear headphones while driving

Rules according to different countries in the world

Every country or governing body has its own set of rules that can change according to what they think is correct. Driving laws have been pretty much unchanged ever since they were created. However, they do get updated from time to time when new technology is created. The use of earbuds or headsets is one such example. Below are the rules and regulations imposed in different countries. This will help you understand the driving laws of individual places.


The driving rules in Britain do not provide specific instructions on the use of headphones. This earns that if the headphones are not creating an impact on your driving, then using them should not be a problem.
However, there are no set guidelines to decide whether headphones or earbuds were distracting you from effectively driving. The inspector or traffic personnel that stops you will have discretion on whether to penalize you

In the case that the inspector believes the use of headphones was the cause for your reckless driving, then you can be fined £100 while at the same time taking 3 points from your license. This is only for cases that are minimum, and the inspector decides to let you off with a fine. If your reckless driving has created major damages, you may be presented in court and forced to pay a fine that could range all the way up to £5000. At the same time, your license could be cancelled or get anywhere from 3 to 9 penalty points on it.

Driving while wearing headphones or earphones is absolutely possible, but it is important to be responsible while on the road.


Despite not being illegal to use headphones whilst driving, it is important that you are careful when using them. You are in unsafe territory if you are using headphones or earbuds on the road. Being careless or reckless while listening to music on headphones while driving will have you penalized. It will increase the chances of you being stopped by the police. At the same time, if you are caught wearing them while being involved in an accident, there is a high possibility of you being the one who takes the blame. 

The official rule book does not mention the use of headphones or earbuds as illegal, but it is recommended that you do not use them while driving. The officer may prosecute you under the 2014 NSW rule, which states a driver should not drive a vehicle unless they are in complete control. This also includes not driving while being distracted, such as by the use of headphones.


The US is one of those countries that does not have a single law that is the same for the entire country. Rather there are different states that have varying laws on driving. If you want to know can you wear earphones while driving, then you will have to look at the state-by-state law? Depending on where you are visiting, you can read below for a few of the famous states and their laws on the subject.

  • Texas

A quote that is taken from the transportation code of Texas, Texas Transportation Section 545.401. Reckless Driving; Offense, clearly suggests that the use of anything that may distract a driver is not permitted to be used while driving. Despite not stating earphone use while driving to be entirely illegal, it does imply that it is not a safe option. 

  • California

The state of California does not allow the use of headphones or earbuds while driving a car. The Department of Motor Vehicles may add points to your license if you are found breaking the law. You will be fined $197 while also adding one penalty point to your license. 

As per the law, you may also receive additional penalties and penalty points if you are unable to show up for court. The charge for this may be to the extent of a misdemeanor. Not only will you be faced with paying your fine, but in the case of an accident, you will also have to reimburse the victim based on their injury and loss. 

  • Michigan

There are no specific laws outlined for the use of headphones or earbuds in Michigan. However, the state does have a text-and-drive rule. If you are seen using your mobile while driving, say, for instance, to change the music track, you will be penalized accordingly. 

  • Illinois

Illinois does not allow you to block both your ears with earphones or headphones while driving. This essentially makes it illegal for you to drive with headphones or earbuds. However, you can use a single earbud. As long as the headphones or earphones do not cover both your ears, you can legally use them. 

  • Iowa

The state allows the driver to wear headphones on the road while driving. However, if you are irresponsible and are involved in an accident, the chances are that you will be found guilty. The security personnel does consider the use of headphones something that should be avoided as much as possible to drive safely.

Can you get penalized for driving while using headphones?

By now, you will know if can you wear earphones while driving in your state or country. However, even in places where wearing headphones is not illegal, you can be stopped by the police and get penalized for similar charges.

Getting in an accident

The use of headphones can be extremely dangerous for you, especially when luck is not on your side. In the unlucky case that you are in an accident, the opposing driver will definitely blame the accident on your headphones. Even if you were doing everything correctly from your side, you can still be held accountable and may have to pay damages and even face legal issues.

Getting pulled over

Despite not being a rule against the use of headphones, there are laws that do not allow you to be distracted while driving. This is true in cases where the inspector may feel that you are being careless or reckless while driving.

Getting pulled over

Why should you not use earbuds or headphones while driving?

To be very honest, using headphones or earbuds is not wrong while driving, but they are not worth the hassle. There is a higher chance of people considering that you were at fault in the case that you were involved in an accident. At the same time, officials will have a higher probability of categorizing you as a careless driver. You may be distracted while using them, and it is just not worth the danger. The possibility of being held responsible increases exponentially while using headphones and driving. It is just better that you use your stereo system instead. 

 earbuds or headphones while driving

Why is it better to use a built-in car system while driving?

The built-in stereo system is just a better option than using your headphones. The first advantage is that it gives your ears time to breathe. It is much safer and can also be comfortable. The built-in car system can be much better in audio quality and can also be used as family time if your children are together. It is always to listen to something together as a family. This will also give your child the to limit their use of earbuds. You can refer to  Are AirPods safe for kids? on safety guidelines for children’s earbuds usage. 

Do all the rules apply to riding motorbikes?

The rules associated with can you wear headphones while driving also applies to anyone riding a bike. The traffic rules are created to be followed by all vehicle owners using the roads. This includes riding a bike. It is important that you understand and abide by the rules on the use of earbuds and headphones while riding a bike as well, according to your country or state. Before setting out of your home, you should be reading up on whether is it illegal to drive wearing headphones to make sure that you do not get penalized while on the road.


After reading all the information on whether can you wear earphones while driving, you will have a much better idea of driving laws according to your location. Despite the law, it is important that you are as attentive on the road as possible. The use of headphones restricts you from concentrating on the road, which is why it is better that you avoid their use altogether. If you are driving, you can save yourself from an accident by being a responsible driver and listening to the stereo system instead. This will allow you to stay aware of your surroundings. 

You should avoid the use of headphones while driving, but they are still great to use when you are travelling with public transportation. However, if you are facing charging issues on your Bluetooth headphones, you can troubleshoot the problem by reading, Bluetooth Headphones won’t Charge Or Turn On Issue?

Photo of author

Atakan Kara

I am addicted to music. This is not a problem, per se, but it can be hard to keep your music addiction in check when you don’t have the right tools. A good headset is key, and that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing my experiences through this website.

Leave a Comment