Illinois Traffic Violation and DUI Lawyers
Cell Phone Ticket
Last updated on
At Driver Defense Team, our Chicago cell phone ticket lawyers provide reliable, cost effective legal representation to drivers throughout Chicago and the suburbs. Under the state’s new cell phone law, this type of ticket is now a moving violation—meaning it is more important than ever to keep a citation off of your record, especially if you are a commercial driver. To request a free, no obligation review of your cell phone ticket, please do not hesitate to contact us today.
What to Know About the New Cell Phone Law in Illinois
Our state is taking distracted driving more seriously. On July 1st, 2019, House Bill 4846 took effect in Illinois. Under the new texting and driving law, a first-time offense of operating a vehicle while using a handheld mobile device will count as a “moving violation.” In other words, a cell phone ticket will appear on a motorist’s driving record. Drivers who commit too many moving violations, including cell phone violations, could have their license suspended. Previously, Illinois treated first time cell phone tickets as ‘non-moving violations’—so this is a significant change.
Cell Phones and Driving in Illinois: What is Allowed?
What is Illegal?
It is important to know that even touching a cell phone while behind the wheel is typically against the law. Indeed, none of the following are considered to be valid excuses for driving and using a cell phone in Illinois:
- “I was not texting while driving.”
- “I was not talking on the phone.”
- “I was just holding the phone in my hand.”
- “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.”
- “I was just playing music.”
Not only are some of these excuses inadequate as legal defenses, they can be seen as admissions of guilt. For example, checking your cell phone to use a directions app is not allowed. That excuse will likely be used against you. The bottom line: If you’re touching the phone or have it in your hand while the vehicle is in gear, you’re likely violating the law.
What is Legal?
While Illinois has very strict cell phone laws in place, there are some exceptions. You may be permitted to use a cell phone while operating a vehicle if one of the following exceptions applies:
- Using the cell phone to call for emergency assistance (aka, 911);
- 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; or
- A driver using a cell phone which has a single button to start or stop a call.
If you were cited for a cell phone ticket in Illinois, but you believe that you are covered by one of the state’s exceptions, please call our law firm. Our Chicago, IL cell phone ticket defense lawyers will protect your rights.
Cell Phone Ticket Penalties
In Illinois, the penalties for a cell phone ticket will depend on a number of different factors. To start, the state has put a system of graduated fines in place. Specifically, cell phone ticket fines are as follows:
- First offense: $75
- Second offense: $100
- Third offense: $125
- Fourth offense: $150
To be clear, these are only the base fine amounts. Fees and costs will be added. In some cases, the total cost of a ticket could be $300 to $400 or more. Further, as was mentioned, a cell phone ticket/texting while driving ticket is now a moving violation in Illinois. As such, your personal driving record matters. Depending on your recent history of traffic citations, a cell phone ticket has the potential to trigger a suspension of your license.
Commercial Drivers and Cell Phone Tickets in Illinois: Special Considerations
Under state and federal regulations, commercial drivers are held to heightened standards. Although a first-time cell phone ticket may not be a huge deal for a non-commercial driver who has a clean record, a cell phone ticket is always a big deal for CDL holders. If you are a driver with a Commercial Driver’s License and you are cited for a cell phone ticket, it could potentially lead to your CDL being disqualified. Be careful. You need professional guidance. Protect your legal rights by calling an experienced Chicago Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) moving violation attorney for immediate assistance with your case.
Should I Just Pay the Ticket?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on your circumstances. Please know that paying your ticket requires you to plead guilty. You need to ask yourself: “Do I want to plead guilty?” If the answer is ‘no’, then you should not pay online or mail in the ticket with a payment.
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.
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.
As a reminder, if you hold a Commercial’s Driver’s License in Illinois, you should never simply mail in a payment on a cell phone ticket. You need to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Get Help from Our Illinois Cell Phone Ticket Attorneys Today
It may be possible for Chicago cell phone ticket lawyers to get the ticket dismissed, get a “not guilty” verdict at trial, or otherwise keep this off your record. To arrange a no fee, completely confidential case evaluation, please contact our law firm right away. From our offices in Chicago and Stone Park, we defend drivers in Cook County, DuPage County, and Lake County.