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New Distracted Driving Laws in Illinois

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Technology has come to play a crucial part in our everyday lives.  From answering emails, to catching up with friends, to mindlessly scrolling through social media, we are constantly using our smartphones and smartwatches.  Advances in technology make it easier to use smart-devices for a wide range of tasks now than ever before.  Even though technology is valued for its usefulness and convenience, it is also perceived as a danger when used while driving.  

Distracted driving has been and continues to be a major traffic safety issue nationally, and especially throughout Illinois. While there are many possible actions which can lead disastrous consequences from distracted driving, two of the most problematic actions that frequently lead to distracted driving are the use of cell phones while driving and texting while driving. With that in mind, Illinois has taken various steps to try to reduce the number of distracted driving incidents in the last few years. One law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in August last year imposes a harsher penalty on drivers caught using a phone behind the wheel without a hands-free device.

Starting July 1, 2019, drivers who are caught texting will be issued a moving violation that will go on their driving record. Anyone who is convicted of three moving violations in a 12-month period may have their license suspended. Previously, under the law that took effect in 2014, a first offense for texting while driving was a non-moving violation and did not affect a person’s driving record. Along with tarnishing driving records, the new law also imposes fines for first time offenders. Under the new law, the penalty for a first offense is $75, $100 for a second, $125 for a third, and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. This means that Illinois will stop giving a free pass to first-time offenders as of July 1st .

Numerous government officials were on board with this new law. Secretary of State Jesse White stated this law was needed because distracted driving had become a serious problem. As evidence, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated at least 25% of crashes reported to police involve distracted driving. State senator Cristina Castro also stated that penalties under the previous 2014 law did not do enough to curb motorists from using cellphones while driving. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, about 9% of Illinois motorists were observed using electronic devices while driving in 2017. Regardless of why you are on your phone, you will be charged with a moving violation if you are caught using your cellphone while driving unless you are using hands-free phone technology such as Bluetooth. This means no texting, talking, accessing the maps app to figure out directions, and so on; using a hand-held cellphone while driving is illegal in Illinois, and drivers caught violating the law will suffer a stiffer penalty now.

The use of technology is inevitable, and with its increasing advancement, using technology is easier than ever. However, the use of electronic devices must be limited while driving. If you have recently been in an auto accident and have been injured, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Sherwood Law Group at (312)-627-1650 or email info@sherwoodlawgroup.com with any questions relating to legal matters. SLG is here to help!

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