House Passes Cell Ban for Illinois Drivers

The proposal contains an exception for emergencies. Drivers claiming an emergency would have to appear in court to offer proof.

Friday, Mar 9, 2012  |  Updated 6:17 AM CDT
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House Passes Cell Ban for Illinois Drivers

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Illinois is one step closer to a statewide ban on using cell phones while driving. The Illinois House on Thursday passed legislation similar to the Chicago law that requires drivers to use an earpiece while using their phones.

The proposal contains an exception for emergencies. Drivers claiming an emergency would have to appear in court to offer proof.

The bill -- HB 3972 -- narrowly passed 62-53 and moves to the Senate.

Using a cellphone while driving would be a moving violation, like a speeding ticket. Three moving violations in a year and drivers can lose their license.

Critics said the bill puts unnecessary restrictions on drivers, especially in areas where a driver may not see another car for miles.

Rep. Richard Morthland, R-Moline, said the bill would be a "blight" against Illinois, increasing its reputation as a ``nanny state trying to overregulate the lives of its citizens.''

The bill's sponsor, Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, said he shares some of those concerns.

"In my gut, this bill troubles me. It makes me feel somewhat that we're being a nanny overseeing everything that a driver tries to do,'' Harris said.

Despite his reservations, he said the measure is necessary to keep motorists from being distracted and endangering themselves and others on the road. Harris said the state ban would have ``more teeth'' than a similar ordinance in Chicago that carries a $100 penalty.

The bill would not apply to police officers or truckers using CB radios.

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