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Review the rules about distracted driving in Illinois

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Posted on July 22, 2020

In July 2019, Illinois introduced new laws governing electronic device use by drivers. The state also increased the penalties for distracted driving violations.

As these updated regulations reach the one-year mark, make sure you know the rules about using your smartphone behind the wheel.

Prohibited actions

Drivers in Illinois may not open, read or send electronic communications while operating a vehicle, including but not limited to text messages and email. The law also prohibits accessing the internet and browsing websites while driving, as well as taking videos and photos within 500 feet of an active auto accident scene or emergency.

Motorists may not make calls with a handheld device while driving. However, drivers who are older than 19 may use hands-free technology to talk on the phone, except in a construction zone, road maintenance zone or school zone.

Exceptions to the laws

Drivers may legally use a handheld device to make a call only when they have stopped with the vehicle either parked or in neutral, pulled over on the shoulder or calling for help in an emergency.

Under Illinois law, the term electronic devices does not include two-way radios, CB radios and GPS systems, which drivers may legally use. In addition, the device prohibitions do not apply to commercial drivers using permanently installed devices in their vehicles, nor to first responders or law enforcement officers on official business.

Penalties for distracted driving

Distracted driving is a primary violation in Illinois. That means that an officer can pull over a motorist for using an electronic device even if he or she has not committed another traffic violation. Drivers must pay a fine of $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense and $150 for all subsequent offenses.

As of 2019, motorists will also receive a moving violation for a distracted driving ticket. They will receive a driver’s license suspension for three moving violations in 12 months. Abiding by these laws can help protect you and others from serious auto accident injury.