Police warn drivers of new traffic laws

Illinois State Police officials remind the public new 2014 traffic laws become effective on Jan. 1, and will most likely have an impact on motorists driving throughout Illinois.

Public Act 98-0511 changes the existing legal speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on all rural interstates. The act also allows eight counties Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, McHenry, Lake, Madison and St. Clair counties to opt out and maintain the current 55 mph speed limit.

In addition to the rural interstates, speed laws have been strengthened on all streets, highways, and roads throughout Illinois. Speeding 26 mph over the posted limit is now a Class B misdemeanor, and speeding 35 mph or more over the posted limit is a Class A misdemeanor. 

Public Act 98-0506 bans the use of handheld cell phone devices behind the wheel. Bluetooth headsets, earpieces, and voice-activated commands are permitted. The only exemptions from this law apply to law enforcement officers or first responders, drivers reporting emergencies and drivers using electronic devices while parked on the shoulder of a roadway.

Motorists who violate this section can be fined up to $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense, and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. 

Distracted drivers who injure others or cause fatal crashes while using a cell phone face a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in fines up to $2,500 and less than a year of jail time. Drivers involved in fatal accidents could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time.

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