If you ever received a speeding ticket in Illinois, you may have been sentenced to “court supervision”, which is a form of probation. In Illinois, the court has the discretion, upon a plea or finding of guilty, to defer further proceedings and the imposition of a sentence, and enter an order for supervision. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(c). In particular, in cases involving a charge of speeding, courts were permitted to grant court supervision as a probationary penalty to drivers who were caught driving up to 40 mph over the limit. However, Senate Bill 2888, known as “Julie’s Law”s, seeks to limit the court’s discretion by prohibiting any judge from ordering supervision to drivers charged with speeding more than 25 mph over the posted speed limit in an urban district, or more than 30 mph on the highway
Julie’s Law is an effort to keep repeat speeding offenders from getting a “slap on the wrist.” The law was named in honor of the late 17-year-old Julie Gorczynski, who was killed when a car speeding at 76 mph in a 40 mph zone struck the passenger side of her friend’s Jeep. The speeding driver had received multiple prior speeding tickets, but many had resulted in “supervision”, instead of convictions. Supporters of Julie’s Law (especially her family) felt that the courts have been too lenient on drivers with previous speeding violations and that Julie’s death could have been prevented by stricter laws.
Several other new traffic laws in Illinois were signed by Governor Pat Quinn, including several related to cell phone usage on the roadways. One bill (SB2488) prohibits the use of cell phones at any time while driving on any section of highway that is undergoing a construction or maintenance project. Additionally, HB5105 expanded the ban on hand-held cell phone usage and texting to commercial drivers, except when necessary for the driver to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services.
HB5099 prohibits any driver from using a cell phone within 500 feet of an emergency scene except for specific exempt purposes. An “emergency scene” is now defined as a location where an authorized emergency vehicle is present and has activated its oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights. In addition to restricting the use of a hand-held cell phone for verbal communication, drivers are also restricted from sending “electronic messages” (e-mail messages, text messages, instant messages, and digital photographs, videos, or command access to the Internet).
While more than 70 local governments in Illinois ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, Illinois state law does not currently prohibit cell phones while driving. But that could soon change. Legislators recently sent HB1247 to Governor Quinn, which would enact a statewide ban on drivers from using hand-held cell phones. If Quinn signs the bill, Illinois will join the ranks of the eleven other states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia — that broadly ban the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving.
The bottom line in Illinois – put down that phone and watch your speed!
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