Quinn Signs Texting-While-Driving Ban

Illinois to join 14 states, District of Columbia with texting ban

By Andrew Greiner
|  Thursday, Aug 6, 2009  |  Updated 10:52 PM CDT
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Quinn Signs Texting-While-Driving Ban

Put down that cell phone.

Lay off the text messages. And don't even think about tweeting.

Flanked by the lawmakers who helped push the bills to the forefront, Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday signed legislation that will make Illinois the fifteenth state in the union to ban text messaging, downloading ringtones and surfing the Internet from behind the wheel. The District of Columbia also has a similar law.

"We all know we live in a fast-paced world. We're all busy, a lot of times maybe we get too busy and we get too distracted and distracted driving can cause a safety threat to many innocent people in our society and in our state," Quinn said at the ceremony at Northeastern Illinois University.

But motorists don't have to go cold turkey.

While drivers can't read their e-mail or text if they're moving, they can check messages if they pull over to the side of the road or are at a standstill in traffic. The ban doesn't apply to drivers reading directions on a navigation system.

Quinn also signed another bill making it illegal to use a cell phone without a handsfree device in school speed zones and highway construction zones.

"I think it's the first obligation of our government to protect the public safety, and these are important pieces of legislation," Quinn said.

In Illinois, fines for this level of traffic violation typically start at $75 and go up to $150 but a judge can bump that up, according to Secretary of State Jesse White's office.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1.

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