Posted on Apr 22, 2012

The Illinois House of Representatives approved Rep. John D’Amico’s plan to ban handheld cell phone use while driving. If the law passes, breaking it would carry a fine of $75 to $150. Drivers would still be able to use their cell phone with a hands-free device.

Currently, text messaging while driving is illegal in Illinois for all ages, and drivers 18 years of age and younger are forbidden to use any mobile device—even with a hands-free accessory—while driving.

Back in 2010, Evanston banned text messaging and using handheld cell phones while driving. An Evanston City Council committee has now approved a total ban on portable electronic devices, including cell phones, while driving. If the City Council approves the plan in April, the Chicago suburb will have the most restrictive distracted-driving law in the United States.

State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has sponsored a number of highway safety bills. He believes that an Illinois ban on cell phone use while driving may be “inevitable.” In a State Journal-Register article on January 3, 2012, Cullerton said, “There’s not a big difference between whether you’re holding a phone or whether you’re not holding a phone. It’s not what’s in your hand; it’s what’s in your head.”

State Rep. Karen May also filed a handheld cell phone plan, and Senator John Millner presented a general distracted driving measure. Millner’s bill would ban not only using handheld cell phones but also eating and grooming while driving.

Illinois’ first distracted driving law went into effect on January 1, 2010. Since then, Illinois State Police have issued 19,540 citations and written warnings for distracted driving infractions.