The Chicago Tribune recently published a report on the new Illinois laws that went into effect starting January 1, 2019. In all, more than 250 pieces of legislation are now on the books, ranging from gun control to sexual harassment to synthetic marijuana. One particular law will affect anyone with a driver’s license and a smartphone: There are now stricter penalties for anyone caught texting while driving, though many of the same prohibitions remain the same. An Illinois criminal defense attorney can explain how the new sanctions may affect your rights if you are cited for texting while driving, but an overview of the law may help you avoid a ticket.
Illinois Current Prohibition on Cell Phone Use While Driving
Before getting to how the new law changes the penalties for texting while driving, it is important to understand what types of conduct are unlawful. Currently, any driver under the age of 18 years is barred from any cell phone use while behind the wheel. Drivers 19 and older can use a phone while driving, but only via voice-activated and hands-free functions.
However, there are exceptions that still make it illegal for anyone to use a phone while driving:
- In a designated school zone;
- Within a construction zone; or,
- Within 500 feet of an emergency scene.
Before the 2019 law went into effect, drivers who violated the law on cell phone use would receive a nonmoving violation citation and a $75 fine.
New Penalties for Texting and Driving
If you are at least 19 years old and caught texting and driving, the ticket is now a moving violation. The fine remains $75 for a first offense, but the penalties increase for subsequent violations. Your second citation is $100, a third is $125, and a fourth is $150. Likewise, these penalties are the same if you are under 18 years old and using a cell phone in any way.
However, the bigger issue is that this type of moving violation goes on your driving record. Illinois uses a points system that could lead to a suspension of your driver’s license after multiple violations of traffic laws. For moving violations, including a citation for texting and driving, you could lose your driving privileges after three tickets. A citation could also affect your insurance rates; many insurers will increase your premiums after a ticket or license suspension.
Contact an Experienced Defense Lawyer Regarding New Illinois Laws
If you were cited for texting while driving or any other type of traffic violation, accepting the fine may seem to be the easy way out. Still, there are other implications, especially when multiple tickets start to add points to your driving record. You do have options to fight a nonmoving or moving violation, and an Illinois traffic ticket attorney can help. For more information, please call The Law Firm of David L. Freidberg at (312) 560-7100 or visit us online to request a consultation.
(image courtesy of Jordan Andrews)