Driving around Illinois? Know the new rules of the road

Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash

Texting and driving has been banned in Illinois since 2014. Unfortunately, that has not stopped many in the state from picking up their phone and texting or emailing while driving. Law enforcement officials, as well as lawmakers, have noticed that the ban was not stopping this dangerous behavior. For this reason, the laws on texting and driving are now stricter in Illinois. 

As of July 1, 2019, not only is texting and driving against the law, but even holding your cell phone behind the wheel is illegal. The law applies to all devices, including tablets and laptops. Those charged with breaking the law face a $75 fine for a first offense and $100 for a second offense. Those that continue to break the law and are charged with a third offense will face a fine of $125. For any subsequent offenses, the fine is $150. 

Those fines are not the worst of it, though. The law also changes a violation from a traffic violation to a moving violation. That means drivers that are caught breaking the law three times or more face a suspension of their license, even if they are at a stop sign or red lights. Points could also be added to their license. 

“Hopefully with the new law, drivers will start to pay more attention to the road, rather than their phones,” says Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr., of the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer. LTD. “Distracted driving is dangerous and causes thousands of accidents every year. Still, drivers were just not getting the message. Maybe this law will force them to.” 

It just might. Prior to July 1, only texting and driving was banned, but drivers could still hold their phones, the law was largely unenforceable. There was really no deterrent for texting and driving. A police officer could pull a driver over for texting and driving, and the driver could simply claim they were using their phone for another purpose. That will no longer be the case. Now if an officer sees a motorist holding their phone, it is much easier to hold them accountable for the act. 

It has always been important to pull over if you want to use your phone. With the new laws, though, failing to do so comes with much harsher consequences.