Illinois police continue to cite drivers under cellphone and texting bans

Police officers in Chicago, and throughout Illinois, have been stepping up enforcement of various cellphone bans on drivers over the last few years. For example, Chicago police alone issued 23,292 tickets for using a cellphone while driving in 2010 - which represents a 73 percent increase from 2006, according to the Chicago Tribune.

These tickets have proven to be a huge money-maker for Chicago, as the Chicago Tribune also reports that the tickets from 2010 alone brought in roughly $2.2 million for the city.

Given that strict enforcement of hand-held cellphone and texting-while-driving bans will likely continue, Chicago drivers need to be aware of what the laws are regarding these restrictions in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

Illinois cellphone & texting-while-driving laws

Under Illinois statutory law, drivers are generally permitted talk on their cellphones while driving, except in the following circumstances:

  • Cellphone use is prohibited if you are a driver under the age of 19 and hold an instructional permit or a graduated license
  • Cellphone use if prohibited in a school speed zone, highway construction zone or within 500 feet of an emergency scene
  • Handheld cellphone use may be prohibited by city ordinance, such as in Chicago

In addition to these prohibitions, all Illinois drivers are not permitted to text while driving. Specifically, the statute states that a motorist may not drive a vehicle while using an electronic communication device - such as a cellphone, pda or mobile computer - to read, compose or send an electronic message.

It is important to note, however, that the statewide texting-while-driving ban does not apply to police or emergency vehicle operators while they are performing their duties. Nor does it apply when a driver is parked or on the shoulder of the roadway, when a driver is reporting an emergency situation or when a driver is stopped because of traffic obstruction and the vehicle is in neutral or park.

However, as mentioned earlier, cities often create their own stricter cellphone and texting-while-driving bans, which Chicago has in fact done. In 2005, Chicago officials enacted an ordinance that prohibited cellphone use while driving unless the cellphone was hands-free. Then, in 2008, the City of Chicago added a text-messaging ban - meaning Chicago drivers may now only use hand-free cellphones and are not permitted to text while driving.

As this article indicates, the laws in Illinois regarding cellphone use while driving are quite complex and can drastically change from one city to another. Consequently, if you have been charged with a cellphone or texting while driving offense in Illinois, it is important to speak with an experienced traffic violation defense attorney to be advised of your rights and options.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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