On Wednesday, January 1, 2014, Riverside Police Department personnel have been instructed to begin to enforce the new Illinois law regarding cellphone usage while driving. On August 19, 2013 Illinois state lawmakers banned the use of hand-held cellphone devices while driving. While some municipalities like Chicago had already banned the use of talking on cellphones, the law takes effect statewide on Wednesday.

Illinois is the twelfth state in the country to initiate the ban and is the first Midwest state to do so.  Drivers caught using their cellphones will face fines up to $75.00.  Texting while driving has already been banned in the entire State of Illinois and drivers of any age caught doing so can receive citations and fines.  In 2013, the Riverside Police Department issued 26 violations of texting while driving.  All of the citations issued took place in school zones.

The current law that will go into effect January 1st does not completely cut drivers off from using their cell devices while driving.  Hands-free options like Bluetooth devices and speaker phones are currently safe under the Bill, which also makes exceptions for two-way mobile radios, and for using cellphones in emergency situations.  Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel stated, “The cellphone can be a fatal distraction to those who use it while they drive.  Driving and dialing or texting don’t mix.  If you are driving, pull over to a safe place and stop before you use your cellphone.”

The way the law is written in Illinois driving while talking on the cellphone is a primary stop.  What that means is that police officers can stop motorists simply because they are observed talking on a cellphone while driving.  The Riverside Police Department will issue citations for driving while talking on cellphones and will run special enforcement programs targeting cellphone use in school zones.

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