Illinois Statute: 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2
Also known as a cell phone ticket, if you talk on the phone while driving and hold the phone up to your ear, the police will see you…eventually. And they are cracking down hard on distracted driving for good reason. In the US in 2018, 400,000 people were injured and 2,841 people died as a result of a distracted-driving related crash. Traffic Safety facts April 2020, NHTSA.
While the actual language of the law is straightforward, there is an extensive list of exceptions. The statute says:
“A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device.”
Seems pretty simple. Keep reading to see why you might contest this ticket.
What is an Electronic Communication Device?
“Electronic Communication Device” means an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer, BUT DOES NOT INCLUDE a global positioning system or navigation system or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle.
Can be considered an electronic communication device:
NOT an electronic communication device:
GPS built into the car
Garmin or other GPS device
The statute does not apply in about 11 situations:
- A law enforcement officer or operator of an emergency vehicle while performing his or her official duties,
- A first responder, including a volunteer first responder, while operating his or her own personal motor vehicle using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of receiving information about an emergency situation while en route to performing his or her official duties.
- A driver using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation.
- A driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode, which may include the use of a headset.
- A driver of a commercial motor vehicle reading a message displayed on a permanently installed communication device designed for a commercial motor vehicle with a screen that does not exceed 10 inches tall by 10 inches wide in size.
- A driver using an electronic communication device while parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
- A driver using an electronic communication device when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park.
- A driver using two-way or citizens band radio services.
- A driver using two-way mobile radio transmitters or receivers for licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the amateur radio service.
- A driver using an electronic communication device by pressing a single button to initiate or terminate a voice communication.
- A driver using an electronic communication device capable of performing multiple functions, other than a hand-held wireless telephone or hand-held personal digital assistant (for example, a fleet management system, dispatching device, citizens band radio, or music player) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited by this Section.
4, 7, 10, and 11 are the most commonly used as defenses.
Physically or Electronically Integrated
What if you have CarPlay and your phone is attached to a charging cord?
What if you are talking on a phone that is electronically integrated by bluetooth with your car’s speaker system?
Is it automatically a violation if a phone is seen in your hand?
Penalties for Illinois Cell Phone Tickets
This is a petty offense with a maximum penalty of up to a $1,000 fine.
It is a moving violation in Illinois as of July 1, 2019.
You CAN receive court supervision if you are guilty of this offense. Court supervision can prevent a cell phone ticket from going on your driving record. You must comply with the terms of supervision (i.e. pay your fines and complete your traffic safety school) in order to satisfy supervision.
1st Offense: Max $75 fine plus court costs ($226) and a period of court supervision.
2nd Offense: Max $100 fine plus court costs ($226), usually supervision.
3rd Offense: Max $125 fine plus court costs ($226), supervision eligible.
4th or subsequent offense: Max $150 fine plus court costs ($226), supervision eligible
This is a Court Supervision eligible offense. A driver’s eligibility is mostly based on age and prior driving history.
Read more about Court Supervision.
Can you be convicted of this offense?
Yes, this depends on several factors, including your age and prior driving record.
Too many convictions within certain time periods can lead to a suspension of your driver’s license.
If anyone is injured or property is damaged as a result of an accident and you are at fault, a guilty plea to any citations may be used against you in a civil lawsuit. If you are issued an electronic communication device ticket as a result of an accident, you should consult with an attorney right away.
CDL and Cell Phone Tickets
A violation of this statute may not seem like a big deal, but if you have a CDL, it is considered a serious traffic offense. Two serious traffic offenses that go on a CDL holder’s driving record within 3 years will result in a 60 day disqualification of your CDL. This is true even if the violation occurs in a personal vehicle. Almost every moving violation has heightened consequences for CDL holders, and a cell phone ticket is no different.
Holding a cell phone up to your ear and talking on it.
Texting and driving.
Scrolling through social media.
Fighting Cell Phone Tickets
With the 11 or so exceptions and the ambiguity surrounding physically and electronically integrated devices, there is certainly a lot of room for a defense attorney to contest these tickets at trial.
You are not automatically guilty of any offense simply because a police officer issues you a citation. All of the exceptions and specifics surrounding your ticket should be discussed with an experienced traffic attorney. You may have a case to take to trial.