Earlier this year, Illinois joined several other states in the ountry that ban the use of hand-held cellphones for all drivers. While many people may think that the law is overly prohibitive, distracted driving is a serious issue and is responsible for thousands of accidents and injuries each year. Regardless of the merits or efficacy of the measure, the fact is that it is the law, and people who violate it can face significant fines and other penalties if they are caught, particularly if there is an accident or injuries involved with the violation. Fortunately, there are ways that a Chicago criminal defense lawyer can defend against cell phone ticket violations, and in some cases may be able to have the case against you dropped.
The Illinois Cell Phone Statute
The law prohibiting the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by drivers is found in 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2, which prohibits drivers from using an “electronic communication device” while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway. Under the law, “electronic communications devices” can include cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or a portable mobile computer, as well as other devices. The law does not apply to navigation systems that are integrated into a vehicle. In addition to using a cell phone or other device to communicate, the law prohibits the composing, reading, and sending of text messages as well. Currently, the only way a driver in Illinois may permissibly use a personal electronic device is if it has hands-free capabilities, such as a speakerphone function, Bluetooth integration with the vehicle’s sound system, or a hands-free headset. The fines associated with violating the law are as follows:
- 1st Offense – $75
- 2nd Offense – $100
- 3rd Offense – $125
- 4th or Subsequent Offense – $150
It is important for drivers to note that and 2nd or subsequent offense is considered an “offense against traffic regulations governing the movement of vehicles.” As a result, these violations can easily add up and potentially result in the loss of your driver’s license. Under Illinois law, 3 offenses that fall within that category within a 12 month period gives the Secretary of State discretionary authority to suspend or revoke a person’s license or permit.
Exceptions to the Law
As with almost all legal matters, there are exceptions to Illinois’ general ban against the use of handheld electronic devices. Among these exceptions include, in some cases, the use by law enforcement officers, operators of emergency vehicles, a driver who is reporting an emergency situation, a driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free mode, a commercial vehicle driver reading a permanently installed communication device that is smaller than 10 inches by 10 inches, a driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder, a driver stopped in traffic with his or her vehicle in park, and others. Depending on your circumstances, one or more of these exceptions may apply to you, potentially resulting in having your ticket dismissed.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
Even if one of the above exceptions does not apply to your situation, an attorney may be able to have your ticket reduced to a less serious violation. To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer, call Goldman & Associates today at (773) 484-3131 or (847) 215-2600.