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Drivers now facing stiff penalties for texting behind the wheel

As of July 1, Illinois law became a lot tougher on drivers using a mobile phone behind the wheel. In an effort to curb distracted driving, especially texting while driving, lawmakers have banned using a mobile device while driving. Having a phone in your hand will lead to a moving violation ticket and $75 fine for a first-time offense. It also will go on your driving record.

Second-time offenses will lead to increased fines, maxing at $150. With three violations in a year, drivers may have their licenses suspended.


The law not only applies to cellphone use behind the wheel, but also use of a laptop, tablet or GPS unit.

Law’s exceptions

The only exceptions to the law are the following:

  • If you are using an electronic device to report an emergency
  • If you are using a phone in hands-free mode with headphones or an integrated Bluetooth system
  • If a driver is using a mobile device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway
  • If a driver is stopped (and the vehicle is in park) when normal traffic is obstructed

Dangers of texting behind the wheel

Distracted driving can take many forms, including eating or putting on makeup while driving. However, texting while driving often is considered the deadliest form of distracted driving. The National Highway Safety Administration reports that motorists driving at 55-mile-per-hour speeds take their eyes off the road for about five seconds. That means, their car travels about the length of a football field while they are not watching the road ahead of them.

To avoid using your phone while driving, you can follow these tips:

  • Make important phone calls and send texts before you start driving.
  • Put your phone out of reach while driving. It can go in a console or in the backseat.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode while driving.
  • If you are using the phone for GPS directions, get those set before you leave. Also, set the phone away from you to discourage you from using it.
  • Drive with a friend who can help with navigation or even controlling the radio.
  • Pull over if you really need to access your phone.

No one wants to be responsible for severely injuring another person while driving. Using a phone or electronic device behind the wheel can be more dangerous than drinking and driving. So, make a commitment to use hands-free features and not getting distracted while driving.

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