What’s the penalty for driving while texting? The answer to that question varies widely and depends on the state where you’re driving. Californians get off cheap (and it sure seems like every one of them is texting). Alaskans are the toughest on the behavior (up to $10,000 and a year in jail). Four states don’t ban the behavior at all. Why does this matter? The number one cause of death for teenage drivers is texting (it overtook drinking). And in general, we all agree it’s bad and most of us do it anyway.