Cell Phone Ban in Cars Takes Effect in 2014

Starting in the New Year, it will become illegal to talk or use hand-held cell phones and other communication devices while driving in Illinois. 

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, imposes fees starting at $75 for drivers caught talking while driving. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation in August. 

When people get behind the wheel, they have a responsibility to themselves and to others to drive safely,” said Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, in a Illinois Government News Network press release. “When motorists are on the phone, they are not giving their full attention to the most important task they have. This law will help reduce traffic accidents and make Illinois roads safer.”

The law does contain many exceptions including:

  • 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-operated mode, which may include the use of a headset. Current Illinois law states that the cell phone headset must be single sided. 
  • A driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the vehicle is in neutral or park.
  • A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication.

There are more exceptions that can be read on the Illinois General Assembly website.  

Also starting on Jan. 1, Illinois will have stricter penalties for drivers who cause an accident while using of an electronic device and driving. 

If the accident causes great bodily harm, the driver can be sentenced to up to one year in prison, and a fatal accident can result in a prison sentence of one to three years, according to the IGNN. 

Current law only allows these drivers to be charged with traffic violations.

“After passing legislation to ban the use of cell phones in work and school zones, I felt that we needed to enhance the penalties for causing an accident while talking on a cell phone,” said Sen. Martin Sandoval in the IGNN news release. “This measure will increase roadway safety throughout the state and bring additional attention to the dangers of being on a cell phone while behind the wheel.”

Source: Illinois Government News Network news releasevillage of Vernon Hills news release

Dave December 12, 2013 at 09:12 AM
Exceptions: "A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication." Does this mean you can receive calls? How will law enforcement be able to tell if you dialed or received?
Sleeping Bear December 12, 2013 at 10:09 AM
Dave you can make and receive calls. You can talk all day while driving- hands free is the key idea. Bluetooth, earpiece or speaker mode qualify as hands free. Its confusing because the reasons given in the article state that talking on the phone distracts.... people can still talk on the phone just not with the phone to their ear. Read the second exception in the article above.
Dave December 12, 2013 at 10:31 AM
So you think the exception I quoted requires "hands free" also? It doesn't read that way. When I receive a call I only have to press a "single button". The same to hang up. It takes the loss of attention due to dialing (outgoing) out of the equation. If the law is about driving with two hands, they will be outlawing radio usage and climate control soon! :)
Joe O'Malley December 14, 2013 at 08:23 AM
The headline is misleading.
mjtch December 19, 2013 at 10:27 AM
So if I hold my iPhone up, press the button to initiate Siri (voice activation) and give it a command to call a number, I have only pressed one button to initiate the call. But now, if I press the speaker button, but prefer to hold the phone near me to eliminate some of the road noise, I am not driving hands free, but it is not up to my ear. Can I get a ticket according to this law?


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