Illinois rings in New Year with new road rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/31/2013

More than 200 new laws take effect in Illinois on Wednesday, Jan. 1. A slew of new rules cover a variety of road safety concerns.

“These new laws will make our roads safer for drivers and passengers by keeping more distracted and dangerous drivers from getting behind the wheel,” Gov. Pat Quinn said in a recent news release.

The first law separates speeding in work zones into two offenses. Speeding in affected areas when workers are present could result in higher fines than speeding violations that occur when workers are not present.

Repeat offenders of the speed rule would face loss of driving privileges for 90 days if both offenses occurred while crews were on site.

Another new law prohibits judges from granting supervision to people charged in fatal wrecks if they don’t have a clean driving record.

Supervisions allow offenders to pay a fine and, in some instances, attend traffic school to avoid having violations added to their driving record.

A separate law prohibits drivers from using handheld cellphones. Exceptions would be made for the use of a hands-free device. Of particular interest to truckers, Illinois makes an exception for Qualcomm-type devices.

The new rule replaces nearly 80 assorted local ordinances on cellphone use.

Violations are a primary offense, meaning drivers could be cited solely for violating the rule. Violators would face up to $75 fines. Subsequent offenses would result in fines up to $150. Repeat offenders would have violations noted on their driving record.

A related rule change increases penalties for distracted drivers who cause crashes. Offenders causing crashes that result in injury face up to one year behind bars and fines up to $2,500 fines. Distracted driving incidents resulting in death would carry a three-year jail sentence and fines up to $25,000.

Another new law cracks down on travelers who flick their used cigarettes out the window. Starting Wednesday, cigarette butts will be included on the list of items that a person can be charged with littering. The violation carries a maximum fine of $1,500 and up to 180 days behind bars.

To make matters worse, a judge is authorized to require violators to pick up litter along roadways for 30 days.

Also taking effect on Jan. 1 is a new rule that authorizes the Secretary of State to deny driver’s licenses or permits to anyone 18 or younger who has unresolved traffic citations.

The secretary’s office can also revoke a graduated driver’s license if it’s later found that driving privileges were granted when the minor had an unresolved traffic citation.

Other laws of note cover military truckers and toll violators.

One new law allows driver licensing agencies in the state to waive the CDL skills test for veterans with at least two years experience driving an equivalent military commercial vehicle

Another new rule allows the Toll Highway Authority to publish online the names of toll violators who owe more than $1,000.

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