Cell Phone Driving Laws in Illinois

Cell phone drivingIncreased patrols by Illinois police aimed at ticketing drivers for using their cell phone behind the wheel led Kelly Glish to craft a blog post on the hands-free driving law that went into effect earlier this year. Below, she explains what electronics are included under the law, and the consequences of violating the statute.

The new law in Illinois requiring cell phone use to be hands-free while driving is not just for cell phone use. The current law states, “a person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an ‘electronic communication device.’” With amendments that went into effect on January 1, 2014, the hands-free cell phone use law has people asking questions.

What devices may be included under the law?

The law includes, but is not limited to:

  • Wireless telephone
  • Personal digital assistant
  • Portable/mobile computer (while being used for composing, reading, or sending an electronic message)

DOES NOT include:

  • Global positioning system (GPS)
  • Navigation System
  • A device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle 

What are the consequences of a citation?

Those cited for violating the hands-free cell phone use law face the following consequences:

  • First time offenders: fine up to $75
  • Second offense:  fine up to $100
  • Third offense: fine up to $125
  • Fourth or Subsequent offense: fine up to $150

A violation of this law will be considered AGGRAVATED when the driver commits the violation and in doing so is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, disfigurement, or death to another and the violation was a proximate cause of the injury or death. (Causing great bodily harm under violation of this law is a Class A Misdemeanor; causing death is a Class 4 Felony)

Who can be cited for violating the law?

Anyone operating a motor vehicle on any Illinois roadway may be cited for violating this law EXCEPT:

  • A law enforcement officer (while performing his/her official duties).
  • An operator of an emergency vehicle (while performing his/her official duties).
  • A driver using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode, which may include the use of a headset.
  • A driver of a commercial motor vehicle reading a message displayed on a permanently installed communication device designed for a commercial motor vehicle with a screen that does not exceed 10 inches tall by 10 inches wide in size.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park.
  • A driver using two-way or citizen band radio service.
  • A driver using two-way mobile radio transmitters or receivers for licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the amateur radio service.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device capable of performing multiple functions, other than a hand-held wireless telephone or hand-held personal digital assistant (for example, a fleet management system, a citizen band radio, a music player, etc.) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited by the law.

Tips To Avoid A Ticket

1. Pull over on shoulder and park to complete communication on your cell phone.

2. Buy a cell phone suction mount to hold your phone stationary while being used as a GPS.

3. Use Bluetooth or a similar hand-free option to communicate while driving.

4. If stopped in traffic, put car in park or neutral while sending electronic communications.

In the event that you want to challenge a citation, contact an attorney to discuss the details of your case, especially if you feel like you wrongly received the ticket. We’re here to help.

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