You don’t have to be an attorney to know that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic crashes. We see the victims of these tragic crashes every day in our office. In fact, drivers have so many things that can take their attention from the roads. Tragedy can strike when this occurs.
Illinois lawmakers try to stop distracted driving crashes before they start. There are several Illinois laws to help people think twice before they let a phone or other interruption take their focus from the road. Keep reading to find out why these laws can help drivers stay safe on the roads in Illinois.
Cell Phone Call Prohibition
In Illinois, you can’t use a cell phone while you drive, unless it’s a hands-free device. If you do talk on the phone while you drive, law enforcement can pull you over and give you a ticket. There are graduated penalties which means you pay more if you get caught a second or a third time. The infraction can go on your driving record, too.
There are a few exceptions. You can use a cell phone while driving if you’re working as a police officer or if you’re providing emergency services. You can also use a cell phone if you’re using it to report an emergency situation.
It’s illegal to drive recklessly in the Land of Lincoln. In short, this means that it’s illegal to purposefully drive in a way that’s likely to hurt others. Put another way, you can’t drive a vehicle in a way that shows that you have a willful disregard for the safety of people or property. This is an important law because large vehicles that move quickly can cause serious harm.
The state considers this a serious crime. In fact, even if no one gets hurt, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. If you drive recklessly and you hurt a child or crossing guard in a school zone, it’s a felony. There’s even a separate crime called aggravated reckless driving if you drive in a reckless way that seriously hurts someone else. A person convicted of aggravated reckless driving can expect a significant criminal jail sentence as well as civil liability to the person injured.
Texting and Driving is Illegal in Illinois
Another law that prevents distracted driving is Illinois’ texting and driving law. Really, this prohibition is found in the same Illinois law that prevents a person making a cell phone call while driving. You can’t use any kind of electronic communication device to send a message unless the device is completely hands free.
A first violation of this law is a fine of $75. The fine increases each time you get caught until you pay $150 for each offense. If you hurt someone seriously, the offense becomes a misdemeanor. If you kill someone, it’s a class four felony.
The Illinois legislature hopes that these laws prevent distracted driving. Phone calls, reckless driving and texting while driving are some of the most common ways that people drive while distracted. Lawmakers hope that bans on these behaviors make them less common, by helping motorists think twice about their behavior while behind the wheel.