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Understanding Illinois’ New Texting While Driving Laws

 Posted on July 03, 2019 in Criminal Law

Distracted driving continues to be a problem on the state and national level, but Illinois lawmakers have made a push to help keep our roads safer. Starting last week, new distracted driving laws went on the books, and they are much stricter than the previous laws. Below, we take a closer look at what constitutes a violation under the new laws, and what you should do if you receive a ticket for texting while driving.

Electronic Device Use Behind The Wheel

The new law makes it illegal for a person to use an electronic device while they are behind the wheel. This action was already illegal, but the scope has been broadened and the penalties enhanced. Under the previous law, a police officer could stop a driver who was texting behind the wheel and issue them a warning ticket. If they were caught texting behind the wheel a subsequent time, they were issued a monetary citation that was considered a non-moving violation, which meant it didn’t affect the status of their driver’s license.

Under the new law, a person can be ticketed the first time they are spotted using an electronic device while they are driving. The key word here is using. Any use of an electronic device, be it sending a text, holding your phone up to your ear or holding it in your hand while on speakerphone are all considered actions that could warrant a ticket. Moreover, the new citation is considered a moving violation. In Illinois, three moving violations in a one-year span can result in the suspension of your driving privileges.

Costs and Exceptions

If you are ticketed for using an electronic device behind the wheel, a first offense citation will run you $75. Every subsequent ticket increases $25 in price up to a maximum of $150, but again, you may lose your driving privileges before you hit that maximum amount.

Like many laws, there are also some exceptions on the books. Here’s a look at some of the situations in which you can legally use a cell phone or another electronic device while behind the wheel:

  • When reporting an emergency
  • When in a hands-free or bluetooth mode
  • When parked on the shoulder of a roadway
  • When normal traffic is obstructed, and your vehicle is in park
  • If the person is a law enforcement officer or emergency services worker performing work duties.

However, it’s also worth noting that the use of a cell phone, even in a hands-free capacity, is illegal in a construction or school zone, within 500 feet of an emergency scene, of if the driver is under 18.

Now that the penalties have been enhanced, it’s more important than ever that you seek legal counsel if you’ve been cited under the new use of an electronic device while driving law. If you were clearly in violation and it’s your first offense, we may just advise challenging the citation on your own, but if you stand to lose your driver’s license, you need to hire a lawyer to fight on your behalf. At Appelman Lawyers, we’re very familiar with traffic court and have helped countless individuals hang onto their licenses when faced with suspension or revocation. You need your car for everyday life, so don’t just plead guilty and hope for leniency. Work with Appelman Lawyers and know that we’re doing everything in our power to help you retain your driving rights. For a free case consultation, give us a call at (630) 717-7801.

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