Illinois Makes Texting/Driving More Serious

Illinois drivers will face more serious penalties if they are found texting behind the wheel this summer.  House Bill 48-46 will take into effect on July 1st, which will count 1st-time offenders of operating a handheld mobile device behind the wheel as a moving violation.  Under state law, moving violations appear on a motorists’ driving record, and a driver who gets 3 moving violations in one year could have their driver’s license suspended.  Current law treats 1st time offenses of distracted driving as a nonmoving violation, so only repeat offenses appear on someone’s driving record.  1st time moving and nonmoving offenders carry a fine of $75, which will gradually increase with each additional offense.  Former Governor Bruce Rauner signed the law back in August 2018, with current Governor JB Pritzker considering a proposal to increase the initial fine to $1,000, in the event that a distracted driver that causes an accident, resulting in serious bodily harm.  Under this new law, drivers are not allowed to operate a mobile handheld device for any reason while the car is in drive, which includes GPS or handheld music device.  The law has some exceptions, which include using a handheld device to contact emergency personnel, which would mean no fine, or drivers who use their mobile device while parked on the side of the roadway.