IL enacts new laws on texting while driving and “dooring” bicyclists

From WQad8.com:

A new law in Illinois enhances the punishment for texting behind the wheel.

Starting in July 2019, drivers caught using cell phones while driving will not only get fined, but it will count as a moving violation that could lead to license suspension.

The new law signed this week by Gov. Bruce Rauner now makes the first ticket for texting and driving a moving offense. That means it goes on the offender’s record and can lead to a suspension if they commit two other violations in the next year.

And from the Chicago Tribune:

The new law, which goes into effect next July, makes the penalty $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. Under current law, drivers get a warning and no fine the first time.

Distracted driving has been cited as a factor in an increase in traffic deaths nationally over the last three years…

Another bill signed by the governor adds the “Dutch Reach” method of opening car doors to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and adds bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam.

The Dutch Reach encourages drivers and passengers to use the hand farthest from the door to reach across the body to open the door after parallel parking. This prods people in motor vehicles to look back for cyclists and other traffic, and can help prevent sometimes-fatal “dooring” crashes, said the Active Transportation Alliance, a bike, pedestrian and transit user advocacy group. It is called the Dutch Reach because it is taught and used in the Netherlands.

lllinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes on the rise across the state. In 2015, there were more than 300 reported in Chicago, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

This Wednesday will be “Speed Awareness Day” which means extra traffic enforcement

trafficstop

This coming Wednesday will be the third annual “Speed Awareness Day.”

According to Central Illinois Proud:

During the day of awareness, motorists can expect to see and increase in police presence. The Illinois State Police is taking a proactive approach to promote safety for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists through enforcement and education.

Pretty much every police department, from Addison to Zion will ramping up their speed enforcement on Wednesday.  So don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

And as a further reminder, driving 26-34 miles per hour over the speed limit is a Class B misdemeanor, and 35 miles or over is a Class A misdemeanor.

Please slow down.

Illinois one of toughest states for speeding, reckless driving according to study

From WJBC.com:

Illinois’ police forces may not give out the most speeding tickets but when they do, state laws make them some of the most expensive in the nation.

A new report by financial service company WalletHub found that Illinois comes down the harder on speeders than nearly any other state but it has some of the harshest penalties in the nation. It was tied with three other states for eighth-strictest overall and fourth in terms of speeding enforcement, behind only Virginia, Arizona and New Mexico. It ranked fourth in the nation in terms of WalletHub’s “speeding enforcement” rankings. That’s based on threshold for an automatic reckless driving ticket, average hike in insurance premium after a ticket, and how much a speeding ticket counts toward a suspension.

WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said one ticket in Illinois gets a speeder much closer to a license suspension than other states.

“It has about 45 percent in terms of how much a speeding ticket counts toward a suspension,” she said. “Usually, a ticket is 15 percent counted toward a suspension.”

Illinois also ranked high on the list because of the long jail sentences and costly fines for reckless driving.

“Illinois has some of the highest days in jail after a first conviction at ten days and 20 for a second and the fines are some of the most expensive in the country as well,” Gonzalez said.

Read the full story here:  http://www.wjbc.com/2018/07/12/study-finds-illinois-doles-out-some-the-toughest-penalties-for-driving-offenses/

New DUI forfeiture opinion upholds forfeiture of Wife’s Harley driven by Husband

The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed an Appellate Court ruling that I previously discussed on this blog.

In the case, a husband and wife went drinking.  The husband’s license had already been suspended for drunk driving.  The wife claimed that she had been the driver of the motorcycle, but when the left the bar to go home, her husband, who had a key fob, got on their Harley Davidson first and refused to relinquish control.  He was later arrested with DUI with a BAC of twice the legal limit, and the vehicle was forfeited.

The Appellate Court held that the forfeiture was unconstitutional, considering that the wife had paid $35,000 for the bike and that she was not the one violating the law.

On further appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, the Court noted that the actual value of the vehicle at the time of the forfeiture had not been proven during the forfeiture hearing, only the cost of purchase four years earlier.  It also held that the wife bore some degree of culpability for this occurrence, because she knowing consented to her husband driving even though she knew that his license was suspended and that he was intoxicated.

Read the Opinion here:  The People of the State of Illinois ex rel Matthew Hartrich v. 2010 Harley Davidson, 2018 IL 121636 (February 16, 2018).

Chicago considering providing officers with Textalyzers

From WGN news:

A new piece of technology called a “textalyzer” debated at Chicago City Hall Thursday would make it possible for officers to scan drivers’ phones after pulling them over. State legislatures in New York and Tennessee are also considering the technology, but so far Chicago is believed to be the first city to discuss it.

The City Council’s Public Safety Committee discussed the growing issue of distracted driving Thursday. According to experts, distracted driving is blamed for the biggest spike in traffic deaths in 50 years. In some studies, as many as 50 percent of teenagers admit to texting or emailing while driving.

Read the entire story here:  http://wgntv.com/2018/01/11/chicago-debates-giving-cops-textalyzers-to-test-drivers-smartphones/

Cook County will stop prosecuting some traffic offenses

From the Chicago Tribune:

Citing a lack of personnel, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office plans to stop prosecuting certain traffic offenses, a top county official said.

Under a policy expected to take effect later this year, the state’s attorney’s office will not prosecute people accused of driving on licenses that have been suspended or revoked for financial reasons — such as failure to pay child support, tolls or parking tickets.

Instead, individual cities will have the option to prosecute those violations.

“We are in a triage mode, and we can’t continue to do what we were doing 10 years ago with 30 percent less resources,” Eric Sussman, the first assistant state’s attorney, told the Tribune on Wednesday…

In the new policy on traffic cases, Cook County prosecutors will continue to handle cases in which a driver’s license was invalidated because of more serious crimes, such as DUI, fleeing a police officer and reckless homicide.

In addition, the new traffic policy raises the bar for felony charges against people who cause serious car crashes while their licenses were revoked for financial reasons.

Under current law, a driver’s license-related misdemeanor charge can be upgraded to a felony if the driver causes a serious car crash and has one prior conviction for driving on an invalidated license.

Under the new policy, the state’s attorney’s office would upgrade those charges only if the defendant has five or more convictions for driving on a revoked or suspended license, if the license was taken away for money-related reasons.