CHICAGO — Illinois next year will increase the penalties for using an electronic device while behind the wheel in the state's latest effort to crack down on distracted driving.
A bill signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker increases penalties for texting while driving violations if "great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement" results. It gives the Illinois Secretary of State the authority to revoke or suspend the driver's behind-the-wheel privileges for a year and impose a minimum fine of $1,000.
The new penalties apply to using cellphones, laptops, tablets and other hand-held electronic devices while driving. The law takes effect in July 2020..
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The new law doesn't apply to drivers reporting an emergency to emergency personnel, drivers using an electronic device with hands-free or voice-operated modes or drivers parked on the shoulder or stopped in traffic with their vehicle in neutral or park.
The stricter penalties come on top of a law that took effect July 1 that makes using or even holding an electronic device while driving a moving violation. Three such offenses in a year result in a suspended license. Previously, drivers would receive a warning ticket for the first offense and any subsequent tickets were nonmoving violations.
Illinois banned texting while driving in 2010.
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