Bigger fines, radar cameras coming to Illinois work zones

| 8/19/2004

Illinois is tightening up its rules for traffic in highway work zones.

Two laws that would increase fines in work zones and authorize the use of radar cameras to catch the speeders were signed into law by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his office said Aug. 19.

The first of the two new laws, HB7015, will increase fines on work zone speeders to as much as $750. Minimum fines for first offenders increase to $375, and to $750 for second or subsequent offenses. Some offenders could face a 90-day suspension of their driver’s licenses if they have several violations in two years.

The bill originally called for adding cameras or other recording devices to construction zones and using that automated equipment to record violations of the lower work zone speed limits. Those provisions were removed by the Senate.

However, the second bill signed into law by the governor, HB4012, did contain a stamp of approval for the cameras.

HB4012 allows the use of the cameras during times when workers are present in the construction zones. It also says that any automated traffic control system must obtain a clear photograph or recorded image of the vehicle operator – as well as of the vehicle and registration plate – while the driver is speeding in a construction or maintenance zone.

If the driver cannot be identified using the photograph, the vehicle owner is not liable for the fine. However, if the driver can be identified, that person is fined – not the owner, if a person other than the owner is driving.

HB4012 – introduced by Reps. Paul D. Froehlich, R-Schaumburg, John J. Millner, R-Carol Stream, and Jim Sacia, R-Freeport – passed the House March 30 by a vote of 113-2; it was approved by the Senate by 36-12 on May 19. It is effective immediately.

HB7015, introduced by Rep. Patrick Verschoore, D-Rock Island, passed the House April 1 by a vote of 113-2, and was approved by the Senate May 17 by a vote of 53-2.

Blagojevich announced his support for the ideas behind the two bills in April. At that time, his office not only called for radar cameras, but also mentioned the possibility of Illinois Department of Transportation trucks manned by out-of-uniform state troopers with radar equipment, who could use the technology to monitor speeds in the work zone.

“I know most Illinois drivers respect the hard work of roadway workers across the state by slowing down in construction zones,” Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. “Unfortunately, there are a few drivers out there who don’t seem to understand just how dangerous speeding through a work zone can be.”

According to state figures, 46 drivers, passengers and workers died in accidents linked to highway work during the past year alone.