Distracted driving has become a growing problem everywhere, including in Joliet and Will County. According to a press release issued by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois motorists received over 18,000 citations and warnings for distracted driving, mostly for the use of handheld phones/electronics, during the inaugural Distracted Driving Awareness Week in April 2017.
This law enforcement crackdown was motivated, in part, by statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing that in 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers. Because of this increased scrutiny toward distracted driving, drivers should be aware of the consequences to their driver’s license that can result from a citation.
Illinois Penalties for Using Hand-Held Devices While Driving
In Illinois and Will County, the fines for using a hand-held electronic communication device while driving, whether you are talking, texting, or just looking at it, are relatively small: $75 for a first offense and up to $150 for a repeat offense. While the first offense will not be considered a moving violation, subsequent offenses will be recorded on the driver’s record as moving violations, per Illinois law that went into effect in 2014. Drivers should also be aware that the Illinois Secretary of State has the power to suspend your driver’s license if you have more than three moving violations within a 12-month period.
Can All Drivers Use Their Phones in Hands-Free Mode?
While most drivers have adapted to the hands-free rule, two types of drivers are prohibited from both hand-held and hands-free device usage: drivers under the age of 19 and bus drivers.
Is Distracted Driving as Bad as Drunk Driving?
Some lawmakers think the penalties for distracted driving should be higher and more similar to the penalties for driving under the influence. That is because the consequences of distracted driving can be as severe as when a driver is impaired by intoxicants. For example, a distracted driver may not realize that he has been veering in and out of his lane while looking at his phone. He may not be able to react in time to a stopped vehicle or other obstacle in front of him.
In July 2017, for example, a 36-year-old distracted driver using a cell phone caused the injury of two construction workers on Interstate 80 when his pick-up truck struck a digital sign board. That driver was arrested and charged with aggravated reckless driving and aggravated reckless conduct. The seemingly small matter of using his phone while driving ultimately led to this man being taken to jail and held until he could post bail.
Protect Your Rights with a Skilled Joliet Traffic Defense Attorney
Illinois police are cracking down on distracted driving with increasing focus. If you are cited for distracted driving or other serious traffic violations, you need an experienced Will County traffic violations lawyer by your side to aggressively defend your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.