Distracted driving is a dangerous reality that leads to an unfortunate amount of personal injury and property damage. Recognizing this danger, it is unlawful in Illinois to text and drive or engage in other forms of distracted driving. Referred to legally as use of an electronic communication device, Illinois law prohibits the use of mobile phones and similar devices while operating a vehicle. There are several exceptions under the law, but in most cases, drivers must refrain from using their phones and other devices while on state roadways.
What is Use of Electronic Communication Devices?
Illinois defines use of an electronic communication device in 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2. Essentially, Illinois prohibits the use of the following devices while operating a vehicle:
- Mobile and wireless telephones;
- Hand-held personal digital assistants;
- Laptops and other portable computers; and
- Similar electronic devices.
That being said, Illinois law does allow drivers to use electronic devices that are integrated into the vehicle. As a result, drivers can use hands-free devices in their vehicles, such as a GPS navigation system or a phone connected via Bluetooth.
What are the Penalties for Use of Electronic Communication Devices?
The penalties for use of an electronic communication device also appear in 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2. As a lower-level offense, the offender generally faces a fine for the violation. Fines do escalate based on the number of offenses:
- First Offense: Results in a maximum fine of $75;
- Second Offense: Results in a maximum fine of $100;
- Third Offense: Results in a maximum fine of $125; and
- Fourth or Subsequent Offense: Results in a maximum fine of $150.
What is Aggravated Use of Electronic Communication Devices?
Illinois defines aggravated use of an electronic communication device in 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2(b-5). The aggravated version of this offense requires one of two conditions. While committing use of an electronic communication device, the offender must either:
- Inflict severe bodily injury or permanent disability or disfigurement; or
- Cause the death of another person.
What are the Penalties for Aggravated Use of Electronic Communication Devices?
The penalties for aggravated use of an electronic communication device vary based on the nature of the incident. If the offender inflicts severe bodily injury or permanent disability or disfigurement, it is a Class A misdemeanor. If the driver causes the death of another person, then it becomes a Class 4 felony.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.
(image courtesy of Jordan Andrews)