Illinois Traffic Violation and DUI Lawyers
Cell Phone Ticket
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Under Illinois law 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2, it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving. Not only is the use of hand-held cell phone prohibited, but also “electronic communication devices” which includes anything from personal digital assistants (PDAs) to portable or mobile computers (such as an iPad).
However, it is important to note that global positioning systems (GPS), navigation systems, and devices that are physically integrated into the vehicle are not considered “electronic communication devices.” We have seen officers make this mistake quite a few times so it is important to know exactly what devices the law includes.
What is Illegal?
It is also important to know that nearly any use of a cell phone is against the law. We often hear drivers with excuses such as:
- “I was not texting while driving.”
- “I was not talking on the phone.”
- “I was on the speakerphone.”
- “I was just checking my phone for the time.”
- “I was using my phone for directions.”
- “I was dialing a number for a hands-free call.”
None of these are valid legal excuses. In fact, they can be seen as admissions of guilt. Talking on the phone is illegal if it is in your hand. Texting while driving is also illegal under the law.
What is Legal?
The phone cannot be used in your hands at all unless one of the following exceptions applies:
- Using the cell phone to call for emergency assistance;
- Using the cell phone in “hands-free” mode or with the use of a headset;
- Using the cell phone while parked on the shoulder of a roadway;
- Using the cell phone on the roadway if the normal flow of traffic has stopped or obstructed and you have your vehicle in park or neutral;
- A driver using a cell phone which has a single button to start or stop a call.
Cell Phone Ticket Penalties
This ticket has a maximum fine of $75 ($120 when you add fees and costs) for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense, and $150 for a fourth or subsequent offense. However, this does not include fees and costs. In Cook County, for example, when you go to court, court costs of $179 to $214 will be added on to the fine. This makes the minimum actually about $300 for a first offense. In DuPage and Lake counties, the total cost can be $400 or more.
While a violation of the Illinois cell phone law is usually a petty offense, the use of a cell phone that results in an accident resulting in personal injury or death may be upgraded to a misdemeanor or felony offense.
Is a Cell Phone Ticket a Moving Violation?
Prior to July 1, 2019, the first offense for driving while using an electronic communication device was not a moving violation. Subsequent offenses were considered a moving violation.
However, a new law goes into effect on July 1, 2019, that makes illegally using a handheld device a moving violation on the first offense.
If you are a driver with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or you want to make every effort to keep this off your driving record, it is advised that you hire an experienced traffic lawyer to represent you. If you are cited while driving a commercial vehicle, it will count as a moving violation even prior to the new law taking effect.
Our lawyers have had great success fighting these tickets. It is possible that we may be able to get the ticket dismissed, get a “not guilty” verdict at trial, or otherwise keep this off your record. Please contact us to discuss your specific situation.
Should I Just Mail In The Ticket With A Payment?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on your circumstances. Mailing in your ticket with a payment requires you to plead guilty. The first question you should ask yourself is, “Do I want to plead guilty?” For many people, the answer is no.
Also, you must read your options carefully. Sometimes, you can request court supervision. This is a good thing for most people and it might be the right option for you. However, the court must offer it and you must be eligible for it. And it often requires you to complete online traffic safety school.
If you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) then you should never just mail in your ticket. CDL drivers do not benefit from supervision.
Mailing in your ticket with a payment might be the easiest and least expensive way to handle your cell phone ticket. But maybe not. We are happy to discuss your particular situation for free and give you an honest, fair assessment.