A measure prohibiting talking on cell phones while driving is getting tweaked

May 13, 2013

The sponsor of a plan that would prohibit talking on cell phones while driving says he plans to change it, so first-time violations carry a lesser penalty. The measure would have considered first-time offenses as moving violations. Penalties included a fine AND mention on a criminal record, which could lead to higher insurance rates.

But Sponsor John Mulroe,  a Democrat from Chicago, says fellow lawmakers voiced concerns that it was too tough for first-time offenders. His amendment would make the first violation a petty offense, which includes only a fine. Texting and driving is already illegal in Illinois.  Mulroe says like texting, dialing a call requires too much attention.

"If you can get through 10 or 11 digits, it takes you about four or five seconds to do that. And if you're driving 55 miles an hour, you travel the length of a football field, 100 yards, in that time."

Drivers could still use a headset or speaker phone to make calls. Mulroe says his measure is aimed at reducing distracted driving, and hopes to introduce his amendment later this week. Opponents say this is an example of government becoming too involved in residents' lives.