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New laws going into effect in Illinois in 2014

As 2014 opens, a number of laws passed in 2013 are going into effect in Illinois. Illinois residents should be aware of some of the changes to the laws and how these changes could impact their lives.

Medical marijuana

One of the most noteworthy changes to Illinois law is that the state's residents may now use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Those with certain specified conditions may obtain a doctor's prescription to use marijuana to ease their symptoms. People may obtain up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks for medicinal use, and the doctor prescribing the marijuana must have a prior relationship with the patient.

Concealed carry

Illinois gun owners may now apply for concealed carry permits, allowing them to carry handguns concealed on their persons. Only those with State Firearms Owner ID cards may apply for concealed carry permits.

Many are concerned about the confusion that the new law may cause. Questions remain about which establishments and facilities may still ban handguns under the new law, despite the ability of people to legally carry concealed handguns with concealed carry permits.

Traffic laws

Several new traffic laws went into effect January 1, 2014 in Illinois. One of the most broad-reaching changes is the ban on using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel. Drivers must now use hands-free technology when making phone calls when driving. The law also increases penalties for distracted drivers who cause auto accidents and injure others while using a cell phone or other electronic device.

Another change to Illinois traffic laws is that speed limits are increasing to 70 m.p.h. on most Illinois highways. However, counties near Chicago and St. Louis may choose to opt out of the increase if local lawmakers believe the increase will cause too many auto accidents. Lawmakers also adjusted the penalties for speeding in work zones. Under the new law, drivers who are cited for speeding in a work zone where there are no workers will still face increased penalties, but those penalties will be less than the penalties drivers face for speeding in work zones where there are workers present.

Finally, school districts now have permission to equip school buses with cameras, and drivers caught passing stopped school buses may be fined.

Illinois residents who have questions about how the changes to the state's laws impact their rights and responsibilities should seek the advice of a skilled Illinois attorney who can discuss their specific concerns and advise them of their options.

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