Stiffer texting while driving penalties begin Monday

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s legislative initiative strengthening the law on texting while driving takes effect Monday, July 1.

The law cracks down on texting while driving by classifying first-time offenses as moving violations.

Violators will also be charged a $75 fine for their first offense. That fine will increase by $25 each additional offense, capping off at $150.

Under the previous law, second and subsequent texting while driving offenses are treated as moving violations, while first offenses are treated as nonmoving violations.

The penalty for a violation of this law results in a moving violation that will be recorded to the motorist’s driving record, as well as fines and court costs which will be determined by a judge.

A driver who is convicted of three moving violations in a 12-month period is subject to a driver’s license suspension.

This law applies to devices like cellphones, laptops, and tablets. Using a hands-free feature is the only way to use these devices while on the roadways.

Texting while driving is considered among the most deadly forms of distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a motorist traveling at 55 mph takes their eyes off the road on average for five seconds when sending or reading a text. This equates to driving blindly for the length of a football field.

Former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB 4846 into law in August 2018. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is considering a proposal that would increase the initial fine to $1,000 in the event that distracted driving causes an accident resulting in serious bodily harm.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said, “With the increased use of technological devices, distracted driving has become a serious problem on the roads of our state and throughout the nation.” He added, “This important law will make our roads safer….no driver should be texting while driving.”

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