For people who drive through and around Illinois and like to talk on their mobile phones, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news: you’ll no longer be confused about whether the area you’re driving in permits or bans handheld cell phone use while driving (a survey by the Chicago Tribune revealed that about 28 percent of municipalities have some laws on the books pertaining to this issue). The bad news: it appears that all handheld cell phone use will be prohibited while you’re behind the wheel.
The Illinois legislature has sent a bill to Governor Pat Quinn’s desk that would outlaw this practice in all parts of the state. The penalty for a first citation would be a $75 fine, and subsequent offenses would result in steeper fines and a mark on your driving record. Texting while driving is already outlawed everywhere in Illinois. Drivers would still be allowed to use hands-free devices to communicate via their mobile phones.
This new law would also impact how cell phone usage would be viewed in conjunction with an auto accident. While handheld cell phone use can already be identified as a cause of an injury or fatal collision in an effort to determine fault, the fact that this behavior is outlawed would carry more weight when assigning blame in an accident. As a result, a jury might be more likely to rule in favor of a plaintiff and/or award more monetary damages in a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit if the defendant was found to have caused an injury or fatal accident while driving and talking on his or her handheld cell phone.
The ban is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014. It would make Illinois the 12th state (along with the District of Columbia) to completely outlaw handheld cell phone use behind the wheel.