New Illinois Texting-While-Driving Law Increases Penalties

New Law Signed Last Week Focuses on Decreasing Distracted Driving

House Bill 4846 was signed into law last week by Governor Bruce Rauner regarding driver’s use of cell phones while driving. House Bill 4846 re-categorizes first-time offenses for drivers distracted by hand-held gadgets such as cell phones or GPS devices. Now, first time offenses will be classified as “moving violations” and will go on driver’s driving records.

The new law will make it a Class A misdemeanor if the offense results in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to another person. Penalties for using a cell phone while driving resulting in a crash can prison time if convicted.

Other penalties include increased fines graduated by the number of offenses. Drivers may still use an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode which may include use of a headset.

The new law goes into effect July 1, 2019. Prior to HB 4846, state law recognized first-time offences for distracted driver as “nonmoving violations” resulting in only a $75.00 fine. Illinois is one of 41 states in the U.S. that currently has disciplinary texting-and-driving laws on the books.

Distracted Driving and Inattentiveness

Distracted driving and inattentiveness are most frequent causes of crashes. Of course, those categories can seem blurred because if you are texting and driving, you are engaging in distracted driving and you are inattentive at the same time. Inattentiveness covers a broader list of bad driving behaviors to include all behaviors that distract the driver’s eyes away from the roadway. Thus, inattentiveness can simply be failure to pay attention and includes behaviors such as putting makeup on in the car, reading while driving, looking for things on the floorboards and any behavior that in general takes your attention away from the road. Occasionally, we all have these issues come up while we are driving, but we all should pull over at a safe spot to perform these tasks.

Distracted driving is commonly thought of as texting-and driving or operating another electronic device such as GPS or an iPad. In this day and age of hands-free and voice-operated directions, we should NEVER be texting and driving. Now, Illinois is putting more teeth in law practices and we welcome it.

Missouri Should Come Along with Similar Stiff Penalties

Missouri is still on of only three states in the union where there are no laws prohibiting texting and driving. This is ridiculous. In Missouri, drivers under 21 are banned from texting and driving, but this is hardly good enough. In Missouri, there is a distracted car crash every three hours on average. Each and everyone of us has some kind of horrible texting and driving story where we narrowly escaped a crash because someone was obliviously texting away on their phone. I followed a guy down the street the other night and clearly, I could see he was watching a video while driving!!! I had to keep my distance as he was all over the road. How could he not be?

Statewide, Missouri has failed to pass any bills brought to the floor in the last three years. Seriously, almost every other state has noticed the importance of putting real penalties behind distracted driving offenders. Often, the driving behavior of a distracted driver is equal to the bad driving of an impaired driver. There have been a few St. Louis and Kansas City municipalities that have enacted local ordinances banning texting and driving, but we need to get on board on a state level.

Motor Vehicle Collisions Due to Distracted Driving

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car crash that results in injury, you will need an attorney. At the very minimum, you should consult an attorney BEFORE you speak to any insurance adjusters. We offer free, confidential consultations to help you avoid the most common mistakes after a crash.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.391.5220

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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