No matter what state you’re driving in, you should always obey the speed limit in construction zones and assume that traffic violation penalties will be much more severe if you violate the law. However, the specific ramifications of work zone violations vary by state and it’s good to know about them ahead of time.
Speeding in an Illinois Construction Zone
In Illinois, speeding is the only traffic violation that incurs a stiffer penalty in work zones. The minimum fine for speeding in a work zone is $375 for the first offense and $1,000, plus a 90-day driver’s license suspension, for the second offense. Hitting a construction worker will cost you $10,000 and land you in prison for up to 14 years.
It’s also important to note that in Illinois, unlike Wisconsin, workers DO NOT have to be present for the enhanced penalties to apply as long as there is a sign. And if you’re crossing from Illinois into Wisconsin, be mindful of the fact that this law reverses when you cross the border, as Wisconsin requires workers to be present but no sign.
Illinois also employs a tactic called “Photo Enforcement” to further discourage drivers from speeding through construction zones. At various Illinois work zones, you will see white vans, occupied by police officers, equipped with photo radar technology that measures and records vehicle speeds in addition to capturing images of the driver and license plates.
For Illinois drivers, this means that even if they aren’t pulled over and issued a speeding citation, one could still be mailed to them within 14 days. However, photo enforcement vehicles can only be used when signs AND workers are present so they will never come as a surprise.
Photo enforcement vehicles also give drivers an opportunity to slow down before their picture is taken. Each enforcement vehicle has two separate radars and the first one communicates the vehicle’s speed to the driver before the second one tells the police officer how fast the vehicle is going.
So even if photo enforcement vehicles seem intrusive to some, they still allow ample opportunity for drivers to slow down and avoid receiving tickets in the mail.