Effective January 1, 2010, text messaging while driving becomes an illegal act in the State of Illinois, with fines starting at $75. The law (Public Act 096-0130) says: A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send or read an electronic message. Electronic message includes, but is not limited to electronic mail, a text message, an instant message or a command or request to access an Internet site. A stop sign or stop light does NOT waive this restriction.
This new law does have certain exceptions. They are:
- a law enforcement officer or operator of an emergency vehicle while performing his or her official duties;
- a driver using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation;
- a driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-activated mode;
- a driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway; or
- a driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park.
No Cell Phones in School Zone
Another new law that will take effect January 1, 2010 is vehicular phone use in school zones. According to the law (Public Act 096-0131) a person, regardless of age, may not use a wireless telephone at any time while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway in a school speed zone or on a highway in a construction or maintenance speed zone. There are a few exceptions such as a person engaged in a highway construction or maintenance project for which the speed zone is established, a person using the wireless telephone for emergencies, or a person using a phone in voice-activated mode.
Reminder on Other Miscellaneous Cell-Phone Restrictions
Illinois has current statutes governing cell phone use by teen drivers and operators of a school bus. Drivers under the age of 19 are prohibited from using a cellular device or any type of hand-held communication device wile operating a motor vehicle.
Additionally, Illinois is one of six states that allow municipalities to establish their own laws regarding cellular phone use while driving. Chicago’s hands-free ordinance went into effect on July 1, 2005. The Chicago law makes it illegal for drivers to talk on cell phones while operating a motor vehicle without a hands-free device.
Be sure to investigate similar municipal regulations before your travel.
>> Learn about more laws affecting Illinois REALTORS® from Illinois REALTOR® Magazine’s State Capitol Report.