SPRINGFIELD — More than 200 new laws take effect on January 1, 2014, including measures targeting distracted driving and developing the rules and regulations associated with the state’s new medical marijuana law. Also, new Interstate Highway speed limits also take effect on January 1.
Distracted Driving: Cell Phone Ban
Illinois joins roughly a dozen other states with laws banning the use of cell phones while driving. Though the state already has a prohibition in place for texting and driving, once House Bill 1247 takes effect Illinois residents will no longer be allowed to talk on cell phones when driving, unless using hands-free technology.
A survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. Proponents say the new law will cut down on distracted driving, making Illinois’ roads safer.
Violators of the law will be fined $75 for a first offense. Fines of as much as $150 could be issued for repeat offenses as well as facing a moving violation on their driving record. Drivers are still allowed to make calls in an emergency.
Another law will increase penalties for accidents involving someone who was using a cell phone or other communication device while behind the wheel. House Bill 2585 increases penalties for drivers who were distracted by these types of devices, if it led to a motor vehicle accident resulting in serious injury or permanent disability. These were previously considered a petty offense; however, as of January 1, those convicted could be charged with a felony, carrying penalties of up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
70 mph Speed Limit Takes Effect
Illinois’ speed limit will soon be in line with most of the country. Senate Bill 2356 increases the maximum speed limit to 70 miles per hour (mph) on most interstates and toll highways.
For the complete article see the 12-31-2013 issue.