Drivers who text and get caught by police for the first time could face harsher penalties under a proposal that will head to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk.
Under the proposed law approved by lawmakers this week, any drivers who get caught texting behind the wheel could get hit with a moving violation, which goes on a person's driving record. Now, first-time offenders get less serious violations.
The measure is backed by the Illinois State Police and Secretary of State Jesse White's office, which calls texting behind the wheel "the most deadly forms of distracted driving." The new proposal is one of several to come out of a task force formed in recent years to look at ways to reduce distracted driving.
In a statement, White said he hopes Rauner signs the bill into law. If he does, the new rules will take effect in July 2019.
State Sen. Cristina Castro, an Elgin Democrat who carried the measure in the Senate, said lawmakers "supported the logic" of the legislation as a way to reduce crashes.
"Technology has become a very distracting thing, as we've seen," said Castro, who noted she was using a hands-free device to legally speak on the phone while driving. "And you're seeing a lot of accidents because of that, and one of the things that we thought is that we can deter people from doing that. At least to think twice."
Fines for texting while driving will be $75 for a first time, $100 for a second, $125 for a third and $150 for a fourth or more.
The bill passed the Senate 50-2 vote on Thursday after clearing the House in April.