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New cell phone law will trap drivers

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

New cell phone law will trap drivers

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
January 9, 2010

A new law in Illinois will trap many drivers in 2010. On January 1, 2010, it became illegal to use a handheld cell phone in a construction zone or a school zone. It's one of those laws that are on the books, but you won't see any signs on the roadway to inform you.

I'm searching now for that law, since the media have failed to provide the statute in news articles, so that drivers can read it for themselves.

Using a hands-free device with your cell phone is the smart thing to do. It allows you to keep both hands on the wheel (more often). Some, no doubt, will be quick to add that now they can hold the donut and the coffee, while driving and talking on the phone.

But let's say you are blasting down the superslab on I-90 and blow through a construction zone, moving with traffic at its usual 65-70MPH and totally ignoring the 45MPH work zone speed limit that applies 24/7. A trooper might not be able to pick you out for a speeding ticket (unless he is in the photoradar van), but you could get nailed for holding your cell phone and talking.

Claiming that you were just holding it up to your ear (force of habit?) and not talking might not buy you much sympathy from a judge, if the prosecutor shows up with your cell phone records and they show your phone in use at that minute.

Or let's say that you are on your way to school to pick up the little darlings and you pass the cop standing in the school zone. After all, you are a responsible and friendly driver, so you keep one hand on the wheel and wave with the other one - the one that is holding your cell phone.

Bingo! Ticket time!

Without reading the law itself, one nagging question is whether the school zone has to be "hot" for a driver to be ticketed while talking on a handheld phone. Suppose there are no children present;;is a school zone between 7:00AM-4:00PM active? Or it's two minutes after 4:00PM. When is a School Zone not a School Zone?

It'll be expensive to find out. If you fight a ticket, you'll probably need a lawyer. There goes $500. If you lose in court, add $200-250 court costs onto the $75.00 fine and lawyer's fee.

If you just roll over and pay the fine without fighting it, you'll part with $50-75 - whatever the fine is.

Anyone know the statute that covers handheld cell phones in school and work zones?

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