Distracted Driving Penalties Increase

Posted on in Criminal Defense

A number of new criminal and traffic laws in Illinois took effect on January 1, including several that relate to distracted driving. The use of a handheld device while driving was banned statewide, and the penalties for distracted driving have been increased.

According to ABC News, under the new law, drivers may dial a cell phone or other handheld device only while the vehicle is stopped, and only if the vehicle is placed in neutral or park. This includes using the device while stopped at a red light. The law also prohibits motorists from having a video device application that is visible to the driver running on their phone while they are driving.

Drivers who cause accidents which result in injuries and who are found to be using a cell phone while driving can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This can carry penalties of up to $2,500 and may include jail time. Those drivers whose cell phone habits cause involvement in a fatal accident could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which may carry a fine of up to $25,000 and a sentence of up to three years in jail.

The penalties for teenagers under the age of 19 who are charged with aggravated use of a wireless device have also been increased. Previously, teenagers who caused accidents with injuries while using a cell phone could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Under the new law, this now carries a charge of a Class 4 felony. This could have serious implications for teenagers who are charged with cell phone use while driving.

If you have any questions regarding these new regulations, or if you or someone you know has been ticketed or charged with a crime under these new laws, it is important that you have legal counsel on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney today. We can be reached by phone 24 hours a day, and offer a free consultation on your case.

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