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Senate Passes Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving

A bill that would make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving--even for talking--unless the driver has a hands-free device--has passed the Illinois Senate.

The measure passed the Illinois Senate by a vote of 34-20. The matter does have to go back to the House for consideration of an amendment that deals with ticketing.

Under this legislation, you could still use a phone while stopped in traffic, if the vehicle is in neutral or park, or if you're reporting an emergency situation.

The only exception to the electronic device ban would be for a GPS or device integrated into the vehicle.

"In the risk analysis and looking at changing behavior in young people from 16-26 and what that would do to save lives and improve safety on our roadways, I think the benefits outweigh the negatives on that," Sen. Darin LaHood (R - Peoria) said. "I'm going to support this bill, and I urge a 'yes' vote."

"The bill was a little ambiguous," Sen. Andy Manar (D - Staunton) said. "I would've rather seen it a little more specific. My fear is that it would set up some traps for people in terms of moving violations, which obviously affects insurance rates, so I voted 'no.'"

The measure further strengthens Illinois' commitment to curb distracted driving. Back in 2009, the general assembly made it illegal to compose, read, or send an electronic message while driving. It also set restrictions and a fine for those caught using a cell phone in a construction zone.

If Gov. Pat Quinn signs the bill into law, it wouldn't apply to law enforcement officials or emergency responders.

Penalties for breaking the law would be $75 for a first-time offense, followed by $100, $125, and $150 for the fourth and all subsequent offenses.

 
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