The Illinois General Assembly has amended Statute 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2. Under the amended law, individuals caught texting while driving will face stiffer penalties.
The current law took effect in 2014. Under that law, there are fines for the first, second, and third texting while driving offenses; however, the first offense does not affect a person’s driving record or result in a moving violation. Those consequences are not doled out until the second offense.
Under the new law, which will take effect on July 1, 2019, drivers caught texting while driving will be issued a moving violation, and the violation will go on their driving record. In addition to receiving a fine of $75 to $100, the reported moving violation is likely to increase the cost of your auto insurance. Anyone convicted of three moving violation in a consecutive 12-month period may have their license suspended.
Regarding Illinois’ other electronic communication device laws, all devices must be hands-free, it is illegal to use a phone at a red light or stop sign, and your vehicle must be fully stopped and parked for you to use your phone.
Law enforcement officials have the right to pull you over just for showing signs of distracted driving. Signs could include swerving or looking down at your lap.
The law has been amended in an attempt to improve the safety of Illinois’ roads. Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates at least 25 percent of all motor vehicle crashes reported to law enforcement involve distracted driving.
In order to drive responsibly and avoid driving distracted, here are some tips from the Illinois State Police:
- Pull over to a safe place to talk on the phone, send a text message, or compose an email.
- Avoid adjusting your seat position, climate controls, sounds system settings, and other devices while driving. Rely on passengers and preset buttons. Pull over when absolutely necessary.
- Avoid multitasking while driving.
- If you need to care for your child, pull over. Avoid reaching behind you to soothe them.
- Stop your vehicle if you need to eat or drink. That cupholder isn’t as harmless as you think.
With those tips in mind and the establishment of the new law, the hope is to reduce the instances of distracted driving and make Illinois’ roads safer for all drivers and passengers.