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How does Illinois deal with distracted drivers? In this article we discuss the distracted driving laws in Illinois including:

  • What is distracted driving?
  • Who does it apply to?  
  • What are the possible penalties for driving while distracted?

Driving while distracted is extremely dangerous, and can cause accidents that can leave others hurt or even killed. Best case scenario, you can end up with a moving violation that will show up on your driving record. Worst case scenario, you hurt yourself or someone else. That is why responsible drivers do not drive while distracted, and why The Illinois State Police are cracking down on distracted driving through the use of Roadside Safety Checks.

What is distracted driving?

The Illinois State Police (ISP) have a zero-tolerance policy for impaired driving. To combat this occurrence, ISP District 19 Commander, Captain Nathan Douglas, announced that ISP will be conducting Roadside Safety Checks (RSC) in White County (Illinois State Police Announces The Use Of Roadside Safety Checks – Wrul-fm). Officers who are working the RSC detail are looking closely for drivers who are driving in an unsafe manner, including transporting open alcoholic beverages, driving without a valid driver’s license, and most importantly driving while impaired, which includes driving under the influence or driving distracted.  

To learn more about what to do if you are pulled over in a traffic stop, please read our article entitled What Are Your Rights If You Are Pulled Over In a Traffic Stop?  

Distracted driving can involve a number of behaviors, including the use of an ‘electronic communication device’ while operating a motor vehicle. According to the recent amendment to Public Act 100-0858, the Illinois Vehicle Code defines “electronic communication device” to include handheld wireless telephones, handheld wireless personal digital assistants or mobile computers. Using any of these devices while operating a motor vehicle on the roadway will result in a violation. Violation of the rule can include any use of an electronic communication device, including simply holding it in your hand, looking at it briefly for the time, sending text messages, etc. Adult drivers are still able to use their electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-activated mode, which includes the use of a headset.  

Driving distracted, however, is not limited to the use of an electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle. There are other distractions that can also cause accidents, such as passengers. This is another reason for Illinois’ graduated driver licensing system, which allows no more than one (1) non-family teenage passenger (under age 20) per vehicle during the first year of driving.  

Who do the Illinois distracted driving laws apply to?

This section’s amendment does not apply to police officers or operators of emergency vehicles while performing their official duties, nor does it apply to drivers who are using their device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation, or are parked or otherwise stopped or off the roadway.  

This rule is specifically important for teen drivers, who are still new on the road. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 25% of teens report texting while driving.  This is why in Illinois, drivers under the age of 19 with permits or initial driver’s licenses are prohibited from using both handheld and hands-free devices.  

What are the possible penalties for driving while distracted?

Originally, the first violation was more of a warning. Now, the first violation carries a fine of $75, which increases by $25 for every subsequent violation. Violations that result in great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement or disability are considered Class A misdemeanors. Those violations that result in death of another are considered Class 4 Felonies. (Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of Public Act 100-0858 (  

Traffic safety is extremely important and Illinois’ laws are reflecting that. It is important to remember that no use of an electronic device that is capable of communication is permitted while on the roadway, even simply holding the phone in your hand. To keep our roads safe, and your driving records safer, utilize hands-free communication or pull off of the road.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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