(The Center Square) – Drivers responsible for a crash with injuries while driving distracted will face stiffer penalties starting Wednesday.
One part of the new law allows the Secretary of State to suspend or revoke driving privileges when a person using an electronic device while driving causes bodily harm. The law also raises the fine from $75 to a minimum of $1,000.
The new penalties extend to using cellphones, laptops, tablets and other hand-held electronic devices while driving, but do not apply to drivers reporting an emergency, using an electronic device with hands-free or voice-operated modes or drivers parked on the shoulder or stopped in traffic with their vehicle in park.
Dave Druker, a spokesman with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, said it has been a mission of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White for some time.
“It is something that is very close to Secretary Jesse White’s heart,” Druker said. “He created the original distracted driving task force that eventually led to some of the rules that we have now.”
Druker said there are also increased penalties for striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk while driving distracted.
Illinois banned texting while driving a decade ago, and the new penalties are in addition to a new law that took effect last year that made using or even holding an electronic device while driving a moving violation. Three such offenses within a year could result in a suspended license.
"If you are the driver, distracted driving is never worth it," Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress said. "You could cost you or someone else their lives."