How Two IL Traffic Violations Can Become Class 4 Felonies
Illinois has seen the passage of a few new laws in 2020, including two new traffic violations that could lead to some serious legal trouble.
Scott’s Law, as well as a law surrounding watching videos while driving, are two traffic violations that are now far more serious than they were before. Here’s what you need to know about these laws and how to ensure you don’t break them.
Scott’s Law, also called the “Move Over” Law, was named in honor of a Chicago Firefighter who was hit and killed by a drunk driver while working a crash site on the expressway. Now, by law, you must do a few things when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle with its warning lights flashing, such as:
- Slow down
- Move to another lane
- Reduce speed if changing lanes is unsafe
- Drive with extreme caution
Furthermore, when you are approaching a construction area on a highway, you must also:
- Slow down
- Yield or change lanes away from workers or authorized vehicles in the area
- Discontinue using any wireless devices
This law applies to any official vehicle displaying warning lights, and all motorists must now move over when coming upon disabled or stopped vehicles.
Penalties for Violating Scott’s Law in Illinois
If you violate this law, then you will — at minimum — face a fine for up to $250 the first time and $750 the second. If you violate the law and it results in the death or injury of another person, then you will be charged with a Class 4 felony, which can result in up to three years in prison and fines of as much as $25,000.
The other traffic violation that could lead to harsher penalties is distracted driving or, more specifically, watching a video as you drive.
You may be wondering who in the world is watching a video while they drive, but the truth is that with the ease of use of streaming services such as YouTube, it’s become a problem that the Illinois legislature had to address.
It is already illegal in Illinois for drivers under 18 to use a phone in any way when behind the wheel. For those over 18, phones can only be used in hands-free mode or by using a wireless earpiece. Additionally, if you watch videos or television while driving, it can lead to some serious legal issues if caught.
For a first offense, a fine of $75 will be assessed. It increases by $25 each time it is assessed until you get to a third offense, where $150 must be paid that time and every time after.
You may think those penalties don’t seem too harsh, but remember, if you get into an accident because you’re distracted by your phone, you can face much harsher penalties, including suspension of your driver’s license if you have too many points from traffic violations, as well as possible felony charges for aggravated use of an electronic communication device.
Traffic laws exist for a reason. Most of the time, they come about due to tragic accidents that could have been avoided if the law had been in place, such as Scott’s Law. It’s the duty of citizens to abide by these laws when behind the wheel. Remember, driving isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. That means it can be taken away if it’s abused.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.