It is officially time to put down the phone while driving in Illinois. Laws changed on July 1st, allowing police officers to issue tickets to almost anyone using a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle.
Before this summer, you might have expected to get off with a warning for your first stop. The new laws could result in stricter penalties overall, as they focus on ticketing rather than giving warnings. Prosecutors may also add this to other charges, such as DUI.
As explained in the Naperville Sun, you do not have to be using your device while driving to be at risk for a ticket. Anyone spotted holding an electronic communication device of any kind could face consequences. Here are some examples:
- Personal digital assistants
- Laptop computers
These tickets could go on your permanent driving record. That could lead to complications for you down the road. Each subsequent ticket would cost more than the initial citation. A spotty driving record could also lead to other problems — arguments of patterns of unsafe driving hampering the defense of a civil charge, for example.
You should know that paying a ticket may not be your only option. Although it is not necessarily as straightforward as sending a check to County Clerk, a legal defense could preserve the current state of your driving record.
Keeping your record clear could have benefits that far outweigh the relative convenience of paying off a ticket, depending on your case. It is always a good idea to have an individual review of your situation, but that is especially true at times like these — when laws have recently changed. Please do not view this is legal advice. It is only general information about the new law.