Gov signs cell phone while driving ban, goes into effect Jan 1

From the Chicago Tribune:

Illinois drivers will have to peel the cell phones away from their ears under legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Friday that bans the use of hand-held devices behind the wheel.

Motorists could still gab and drive if they use hands-free technology to conduct their conversations. Otherwise they’ll need to pull off the road to make a call or face fines starting at $75.  The law takes effect Jan. 1.

“Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented,” Quinn said in a statement. “Anyone driving a car should be careful, responsive and alert behind the wheel.”

Quinn’s signature means Illinois will join the ranks of about a dozen other states with similar restrictions and will allow drivers to operate under a uniform ban instead of a confusing patchwork of local laws that vary from town to town. Illinois already prohibits texting while driving.

Violators will be fined $75 for a first offense, but could pay as much as $150 for repeat offenses as well as face a moving violation on their driving record. Three moving violations within a year could lead to a driver’s license being suspended.

Drivers still could legally make calls on hand-held phones in the case of an emergency…

Meanwhile, Quinn also signed a measure into law that would increase penalties for drivers who injure or kills others in crashes caused by the use of a cell phone or other electronic device.

Distracted motorists who harm other drivers would face a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in fines up to $2,500 and less than a year of jail time. Drivers involved in fatal accidents could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time.  That measure also goes into effect Jan. 1.

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