New Illinois Driving Laws Go Into Effect January 1

Illinois Driving lawsThere are over 200 new laws in Illinois that will go into effect beginning January 1, 2014. Although the changes affect many different social sectors, we thought it would be a good idea to touch on some of the notable traffic changes that will begin next week. We can help you fight a driving violation, but we’d be happy if our advice kept you from getting a ticket in the first place!

Speed Changes

The first change is likely a welcomed adjustment for many motorists who want to go a little faster on rural interstates. Beginning January 1, speed limits on rural interstates will increase from 65 mph to 70 mph. Some of the more congested highways will remain at 55 mph.

Speeders may also end up facing harsher penalties under the new law. Anyone caught going more than 26 mph over the speed limit will now be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, while anyone going more than 35 mph over the speed limit will be hit with a Class A misdemeanor.

Distracted Driving

Illinois is also cracking down on distracted driving by going after drivers who like to talk on the phone. Drivers will no longer be able to use a handheld phone without the assistance of a hands-free device. Bluetooth headsets and voice commands will be permitted. Law enforcement officials and emergency responders will be exempt from this law.

Using a cell phone while driving can result in a:

  • $75 fine for a first offense
  • $100 fine for a second offense
  • $125 fine for a third offense
  • $150 for a fourth offense.

A driver who causes an accident while using a cell phone will face stricter penalties. Drivers that cause an accident can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in fines of up to $2,500 and a year in prison. Fatal accidents would be upgraded to a Class 4 felony, which means a driver could face fines of up to $25,000 and three years in prison.

The state is sending a clear message to teens by laying down stronger punishments if they cause an accident while using a handheld cell phone. Any person 19 years or under who causes an accident with injuries, even if the injuries aren’t fatal, will face a Class 4 felony charge.

Additionally, a new law has made it so DVD players and other video devices are moved away from the driver. It is now illegal to play a video device if it is visible to the driver while driving.

Disabled Parking

Disabled parking regulations will also get an overhaul next week. The goal of the new regulations is to crack down on those able-bodied motorists who abuse the system.

The new law states that any person who uses a wheelchair or who has a severe disability will be able to apply for a yellow and gray placard that will allow them to park for free at metered parking spaces throughout the state. In order to be eligible, an applicant must submit documentation from their primary care doctor showing that they qualify under the new regulations. Red and blue placards will still allow a person to park in designated handicapped spots, but they will have to pay if it is metered.

State officials believe the more stringent regulations will ensure that those individuals who truly are burdened by the process of paying for parking will still qualify, while those people who abuse the system will be unable to obtain the new placard.

The state has also increased the fines for abusing the disabled parking privileges. Unauthorized use of a disabled parking spot will result in a $600 fine, up from $500, while anyone caught making or using a counterfeit placard will face a $1,000 fine, up from $500.

Related source: ABC 7