Illinois legislature OKs ban on drivers’ use of hand-held cell phones

Stateline Midwest ~ June 2013

Illinois lawmakers passed a bill in late May to make their state the first in the Midwest to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Chicago and some other municipalities had already outlawed the use of cell phones without a hands-free device. Illinois’ ban, though, has only applied to school and construction zones.
According to the Springfield State-Journal Register, a $75 fine would be levied for a first offense. Some lawmakers objected to singling out one type of distracted driving, while leaving other types untouched under state law. However, HB 1247 passed the House and Senate with comfortable margins of support.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, 11 states already have general bans on drivers’ use of hand-held cell phones. In the Midwest, though, these restrictions have only applied to young or inexperienced drivers. Every state in the region except South Dakota has a text-messaging ban that applies to all drivers. In Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio, the violation is a secondary offense — officers may cite a driver for text messaging only if another traffic offense occurred. Text messaging is a primary offense in seven Midwestern states. When states have banned the use of hand-held cell phones, they have made it a primary offense.