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Cellphone law new challenge for drivers in 2014

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 4:00 p.m. CST
Caption
(AP)
A motorist talks on a cell phone while driving Thursday on an expressway in Chicago. Starting in January, motorists will need to pick up an earpiece or have a built in speaker phone system in their car in order to utilize a cellphone. The new restrictions won't solve distracted driving, says the legislation's sponsor, state Sen. John Mulroe, but will help make roads around the state safer.

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – For incessant multitaskers who can’t stop talking while driving, life will include some bitter medicine when the new year rolls in.

Starting Jan. 1, motorists can talk and drive only if they use a hands-free device to conduct cellphone conversations.

The uniform ban supplements the state’s current ban on texting and replaces assorted local laws on cellphone use that vary from town to town, including Chicago, where a cellphone ban has been in place since 2006.

Violators face fines starting at $75, and repeat offenses bring the possibility of a suspended license.

State Sen. John Mulroe, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the law, said witnessing several near-accidents during trips to Springfield convinced him that “hands on the wheel and eyes on the road are the way to go.”

Here’s how the new law will work:

Banned: The new law bans drivers from using a mobile phone unless they use hands-free technology to conduct a conversation. A driver is allowed by law, however, to press a single button on a phone to begin or end a conversation.

Exceptions: The law permits exceptions on the ban during emergencies, or if a driver is parked on the shoulder. A driver also will be allowed to use a hand-held cellphone if a car is in neutral or in park, or if the car is stopped because normal traffic is obstructed.

Elsewhere: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 12 states along with the District of Columbia prohibit using hand-held cellphones while driving.

Options: Many wireless technology solutions allow electronic devices to connect remotely. Some newer cars have built-in systems that sync cellphones with car speakers. Owners of older vehicles can buy kits that integrate their phones and stereo systems. A driver also could use a headset, but state law mandates that it cover only one ear.

Penalties: Violators will be fined $75 for a first offense, and as much as $150 for repeat offenses as well as having a moving violation on their driving record.

Three moving violations within a year could lead to a driver’s license being suspended.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 

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