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Is Texting While Driving Illegal in Illinois?

Updated on March 15, 2023 → Under

As of July 2019, if you're texting, using your cellphone, or using another mobile device while operating a motor vehicle, you're violating Illinois laws. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that cellphone use while driving motor vehicles accounts for 1.6 million auto crashes per year. In 2018 alone, 2,841 motorists died in automobile accidents involving or caused directly by distracted driving.

Part of the problem is that thousands of drivers don't realize just how risky checking a text is while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that reading or sending a text message takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. When driving at 55 miles per hour, you can drive the length of a football field in that period of time. 

At Dohman Law Group, our traffic lawyers in Rolling Meadows provide cost-effective and reliable legal representation to drivers in Lake County, DuPage County, Cook County, Kendall County, Kane County, and throughout Illinois. Under the state’s new distracted driving laws, using a cell phone is now a moving violation, which means it's more critical than ever to keep a traffic citation off of your driving record, especially if you're a commercial driver. For a free, no-obligation evaluation of your cell phone ticket, contact our law offices today at 847-359-4005.

Cellphone Laws in Illinois

Illinois's cellphone law bars underage motorists from using cell phones while driving. The only exception is for an emergency situation. Also, the cellphone law bars all drivers—regardless of their age—from using a cellphone while driving:

  • Through maintenance speed zone or a construction site,
  • Through a school speed zone, or
  • Within 500 feet of an emergency scene.

The cellphone law that applies to all drivers has a few exceptions. The law doesn't apply to:

  • People working at the maintenance or construction site
  • Voice-operated and hands-free device use
  • Phone calls made for emergency purposes, and
  • Law enforcement officers and operators of emergency vehicles on official duties.

Electronic-Device Law in Illinois

This law bars all drivers from using electronic communication devices while driving. An electronic communication device includes tablets, cellphones, and laptops. So, in effect, the distracted driving law bans texting while driving and talking on a phone while operating a motor vehicle, in all locations. Also, the law bans the use of an electronic device to watch or stream videos while driving.

Is Texting While Driving Illegal in Illinois?

The electronic communication device law also has a few exceptions. The electronic communication device law doesn't apply to:

  • An electronic device used for emergency purposes
  • Voice-operated and hands-free device use,
  • Law enforcement officers and operators of emergency vehicles on official duties,
  • Drivers who have stopped because of normal traffic obstructions and have their vehicles in neutral or park, and
  • Two-way radios.

What are the Criminal Penalties for Texting While Driving in Illinois?

The potential criminal  penalties for a cellphone ticket include:

  • First and second cellphone ticket violations. A standard 1st or 2nd cellphone ticket is a petty criminal offense, which carries a maximum fine of $1,000. However, the standard fine for drivers who opt to pay the ticket instead of going to court is $120.
  • Third cellphone ticket violations. A third or subsequent cellphone offense is a class C misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum fine of $1,500. Again, for drivers who pay for their traffic tickets without appearing in court, the monetary fine is $120.
  • Aggravated cellphone offenses. A cellphone violation that causes great bodily harm, disfigurement, permanent disability, or the death of another individual is called an "aggravated use of a wireless telephone." Aggravated cellphone violations that don't involve any fatality are class A misdemeanor offenses and are punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. An aggravated cellphone violation involving death is a class 4 felony offense, which is punishable by one to three years in jail and a maximum fine of $25,000.

A cellphone ticket violation will add 10 to 30 demerit points to a driver's driving record.

Learn More: How Long an Offense Will Stay on Your Traffic Record

It's possible for Chicago cell phone ticket attorneys to get your ticket dismissed, get a “not guilty” verdict at a court trial, or otherwise keep your driving record clean. For a no-fee, completely confidential consultation, contact our skilled Chicago Cell phone ticket attorneys today at 847-359-4005. Our cell phone accident attorneys have helped thousands of drivers facing cell phone violations beat their charges and we can help you, too.

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