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New Illinois traffic laws go into effect January 2014

On January 1, 2014, new Illinois traffic laws go into effect regarding the use of cellphones while driving. Illinois drivers should be aware of the changes to the law and the penalties they face for violating the law.

Hands-free devices only

The new law prohibits drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving. Drivers may still make phone calls while driving, but they must use Bluetooth or other hands-free technology to do so. The law allows drivers to touch a single button to begin or end phone calls.

An exception to the ban on handheld cellphone use while driving is allowed for drivers who are parked on the shoulder who are making phone calls in emergency situations, as well as calls made when a vehicle is in neutral or park or traffic is preventing a vehicle from moving. Law enforcement and first responders are also exempted from the law.

The new law does not prohibit drivers from operating GPS or other navigation systems.

Penalties for violations

Drivers who break the law could receive a $75 fine for a first offense. The fine increases to $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense and $150 for fourth and all offenses thereafter. A ticket for a cellphone violation also is recorded as a moving violation on a driver's record. If a driver accrues three moving violations within 12 months, it could result in his or her driver's license being suspended.

Drivers who injure others or cause fatal auto accidents because of their cellphone use will now face Class A misdemeanor charges, with penalties of a fine up to $2,500 and jail time of up to one year.

In addition to fines from traffic tickets, those who break the new laws about cellphone use while driving could be liable for accidents they cause because of their distracted driving. When someone violates a statute and causes an accident that results in injury to another, the violation of the statute can be used to show that the person was behaving in a negligent manner.

Speak with an attorney

Drivers who break the new laws in Illinois regarding cellphone use while driving and cause auto accidents should be held accountable for the damage they cause. If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, speak with a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney with a proven record of recovering just and proper compensation for auto accident victims.

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