Effective January 1, 2014, Illinois drivers are prohibited from using electronic communications devices, including hand-held wireless telephones, hand-held personal digital assistants, and portable computers, to make telephone calls or to send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle.  Drivers are permitted to use an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode.  The law also allow drivers to use a hand-held electronic communication device to initiate or end a conversation by pressing a single button and in an emergency. 

In addition, the new law imposes strict penalties for distracted drivers.    The fine for a first offense is $75.  Repeat offenders could pay as much as $150 and receive a moving violation on their driving record. A distracted driver who injures or kills someone while using an electronic communication device faces possible criminal penalties.   A person commits aggravated use of an electronic communication device if he uses a hand-held electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle and is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in great bodily harm, permanent disability, disfigurement, or death to another and the violation was a proximate cause of the injury or death.  A driver who harms another person while using an electronic communications device in violation of the law commits a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in fines up to $2,500 and up to a year of jail time. A driver who kills someone while using an electronic communications device in violation of the law commits a Class 4 felony, which results in fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time. 

For the complete text of the new law, see here.

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