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Illinois Becomes a Hands-Free State

We have all heard “Don’t text and drive”. Hopefully almost all of us follow those instructions. But certainly, we have all seen someone using a cellphone in their car while sitting at a red light or stop sign. Even you may have done it once or twice.  Previously we explained recent distracted driving laws, but here is a refresher for you. Illinois officially became a “hands-free” state on July 1, 2019, so if you pick up your phone to sneak a peek at your messages at a red light, you could also pick up a ticket from police.

You might think that Illinois has been a hands-free state since 2010. You are partly correct! Illinois originally outlawed the use of phones while driving in 2010. However, this new law makes just holding an electronic device a formal moving violation. Electronic devices include tablets, digital assistant devices, and even laptops. The law expands the use of the electronic device from composing, sending, or reading an electronic message to any use of the electronic device. Additionally, the fines for the moving violations increased:

  • The first offense is $75;
  • The second offense is $100;
  • The third offense is $125;
  • Any future offenses are $150 per offense.

Exceptions to the Hands-Free Driving Laws

The fines might seem modest but, if you receive three moving violation tickets within a one-year period, the state will suspend your driver’s license. The only exceptions to the new laws are:

  • for law enforcement officers or operators of emergency vehicles performing official duties;
  • using an electronic device to report an emergency;
  • using a phone in hands-free mode (Bluetooth);
  • drivers using an electronic device while pulled over to the shoulder or in neutral/park when normal traffic is obstructed (e.g. when traffic is stopped by a train).

Why Distracted Driving Continues to Cause Accidents

Some may be frustrated by the new tightening of distracted driving laws in Illinois. But these laws keep us safe from the dangers of distracted driving. In 2017, distracted driving was the cause of 3,166 deaths in the United States. These deaths are entirely preventable by just putting our phones down. And distracted driving is a fairly common offense. Illinois State Police issued 15,150 citations for distracted driving last year alone.

In the event you or someone you know has been involved in a vehicle accident caused by distracted driving, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer today for a free consultation. Let us fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

Image from: “Texting while driving crash on phone” by QuoteInspector is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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