Area Police Department Cracking Down on Distracted Driving

distracted driving, cell phone law, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyLast year, the state of Illinois enacted a ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving, making it illegal to talk or text without the use of hands-free features. As the law is now a quarter of the way through its second year, local law enforcement officials indicate that drivers can start to expect less leniency regarding mobile device use and texting while driving. Distracted driving, obviously, is more than just a legal or criminal issue; it also is serious public safety concern.

More Tickets, Less Warnings

Police officers in Orland Park have already issued more than 300 citations for hand-held devices use during the first quarter of this year. While the number is slightly lower than the same time period from 2014, it exceeds the quarterly average from last year. Department officials are hopeful the number reflects a new level of compliance with the law on the part of drivers. Initiatives with in the police department, however, have directed officers to issue fewer warnings and more citations now that drivers have had the time to become accustomed to the ban.

Distracted Driving Dangers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported more than 3,150 fatalities linked to distracted driving in 2013. In addition, more than 420,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents. Despite the dangers, many drivers continue to use their mobile devices behind the wheel. In fact, An informal, observational study conducted last fall by Chicago’s Daily Herald, found more than 1,000 drivers in a single morning violating the cell phone law.

Possible Penalties

While texting and driving may seem relatively harmless to many drivers, lawmakers and law enforcement in Illinois see it differently. The cell phone use laws in the state are “primary” laws, which permit police to stop a driver solely on the suspicion of illegal use of a mobile device. The fine for a first-offense violation is $75, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third, and $150 for each subsequent violation. After four offenses, suspension of driving privileges may also be sought.

In the event that violation of the cell phone law leads to an accident, the resulting penalties may be much more severe. A violation which results in injury to another person can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up $2,500 and one year in prison. If the violation resulted in the death of another, an individual may be charged with a Class 4 felony and faces penalties including fines up to $25,000 and three years in prison.

If you have been cited for texting while driving or face charges related to a distracted driving accident, you need a lawyer who understands how to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney today for a consultation and get the professional representation you deserve.

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