Getting behind the wheel is a privilege—not a right, as we often assume. There are laws in place designed to make the roads a safe place to be for everyone, and starting January 1, 2014, there will be a few more laws going into effect. Learn about them now so you can avoid getting a ticket later.
New Speed Limits, Speeding Regulations
On all rural interstates, the speed limit will increase from 65 to 70mph. Eight counties, however—Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, McHenry, Lake, Madison, and St. Clair—will have the option to maintain their current 55mph speed limits.
Starting January 1, speeding 26-34mph over the posted limit will now be a Class B misdemeanor, while speeding 35mph or more over the posted limit will be a Class A misdemeanor.
Cell Phone Use
Using hand-held cell phones while driving will be prohibited come January 1. Bluetooth headsets/earpieces and voice-activated commands are permitted. Exempted from this new law are law enforcement officers or first responders—even drivers reporting emergencies are subject to the new law and should pull to the side of the road before calling. Violations can cost up to $75 for the first offense, $100 for the 2nd, $125 for the 3rd, and $150 for a 4th or subsequent offense. Not included in the ban is the use of a GPS or navigation system.
Penalties for distracted drivers who cause injury or fatality in an accident caused by cell phone use will face a Class A misdemeanor, which carries fines up to $2,500 and less than a year of jail time. Drivers involved in fatal accidents may be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time.
Another new law will upgrade charges from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony for anyone under 19 who causes an accident with injuries while using a wireless device.
One final new law regarding technology use behind the wheel prohibits motorists from having any form of video device applications operating that are visible to the driver while driving.
Disabled Parking Permit Abuse
Other new laws involve the use of disabled parking permits, particularly when used by able-bodied drivers. Now, eligible motorists will have to display a gray-and-yellow placard in order to park for free in metered spaces in Chicago and throughout Illinois. This new law is to ensure that only people with permanent disabilities are granted free parking privileges. Under new requirements, state officials expect that the number of free-parking permits will decline significantly—now, drivers who have blue or red placards or disability plates will no longer be eligible for free parking. Blue placards allow motorists to park in disability-designated spaces in parking lots, but not metered zones, while red placards allow for parking in disability-designated spaces for a temporary period of time.
Another law increases fines for unauthorized use of a disabled-parking permit from $500 to $600. Motorists found to have created or used a counterfeit placard will be fined $1,000, up from $500.