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Illinois Governor Signs Two Laws Banning Hand Held Devices While Driving

Yesterday’s article detailed the many hazards that can be posed by distracted driving. In particular, our lawyers talked about cell phone usage. Consider this article an addendum, because a few recently signed pieces of legislation will soon make it illegal to use hand-held devices of any kind behind the wheel of a car in Illinois.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law Friday, which stipulates that any person caught texting or talking while driving will be subject to a minimum $75 fine starting January 1st, 2014. “Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented,” said the Governor. “Anyone driving a car should be careful, responsive and alert behind the wheel.” There are now roughly a dozen states across America that operate under uniform hand-held device bans, and Illinois law makers hope this will send a clearer message than the patchwork of local laws that were previously in place.

As we alluded to earlier, under the new laws a driver can expect a $75 fine for their first offense, and as much as a $150 fine and a moving violation for repeat offenses. Drivers that accumulate three moving violations in a single year run the risk of having their driver’s license suspended. In addition, the governor also signed a piece of legislation that will increase the potential penalties for distracted drivers that injure or kill others while using an electronic device. Drivers found at fault for traffic injuries will now face a Class A misdemeanor charge, which could result in $2,500 of fines and possible jail time. Negligent drivers found at fault in fatal accidents can now be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries a maximum of $25,000 in fines and up to three years in prison. (Chicago Tribune)

Last year, roughly 10% of all traffic accident injuries in the United States reported distracted driving as a main cause. This lack of attentiveness behind the wheel has become an epidemic, and in the coming years it is likely that we will continue to see states crack down on the use of cell phones on road. It is important to note that just because the law says it is legal to use hands-free devices, doesn’t mean that it is substantially safer; in fact, many studies from federal safety agencies have actually proved that there is very little difference between the two. The truth is, the best way to avoid a distracted driving accident is to simply wait until your car is in park to use your electronic device. (Distracted.gov)

Our lawyers have a wealth of experience handling car accident lawsuits, and we are not strangers to distracted driving cases. If you or someone you know has been injured by a negligent driver, give us a call.