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There’s no law yet against teens texting at the dinner table, but there is for teens texting on the road in Illinois. Every teen on the road should be aware of the new laws and make sure they understand them.

Here are some of most commonly asked questions by teens about the texting while driving laws in Illinois, along with answers you can give to their objections. Enjoy these FAQs and the possible conversation between you and your teen.

So, what is the law?

The State of Illinois prohibits use of all cell phone devices while on the roadway for drivers under the age of 19 who hold an instruction permit or graduated license.

Wait. So you can use a cell phone and I can’t just because I’m a teen?

EVERYONE is prohibited from using hand-held devices. However, adults can use hands-free technology such as speakerphones, bluetooth, and headsets. You can’t.

Bummer. When did this law go into effect?  January 2014

Come on. Are these laws really necessary?

Research has found a definitive link between texting and/or “distracted driving” and accidents. In the average time it takes a driver travelling at 55 mph to check a text message (4.6 seconds) they could travel the length of a football field.  Texting makes a crash 23% more likely.

But why are the laws tougher just because I’m a teen? It’s not fair! reports that our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk. Teens texting and driving causes 16% of all distracted driving crashes.

I’m going to move to a different state where they make fair laws.

The government has mounted PR campaigns against teens texting and driving and today, 44 states ban texting for all drivers.   Besides the state of Illinois, 36 other states have banned all cell phone use by novice drivers.

What is the penalty?  Fines start at $75 for the first offense. (Plus whatever punishment we, your parents, find suitable for you!)  Fines are $100 for the second offense, $125 for the third and $150 for the fourth offense. But don’t worry. As your parents, we’re not going to give you the opportunity to commit subsequent offenses.

Don’t I get a warning for a first time offense?

The statute is considered a “primary law” which means you can be cited for the offense on its own, not in conjunction with anything else. In other words, you don’t have to be speeding or driving erratically to receive a ticket.   You can text at a stop sign and receive one.

Dumb State. If it’s such a problem, why doesn’t the federal government make it illegal?

The U.S. Department of Transportation is not able to impose a federal ban because passenger car driving behavior is considered part of State jurisdiction. Congress is working on passing laws that prevent distracted driving. For information and statistics, (including a really cool infographic) see

What if I have an emergency?

This is an exception to the rule. In a safe manner, you are allowed to report an emergency and continue communication with emergency personnel during the situation.

Any other times I can text in the car?

Not at your age. Adults are able to text on the side of the road, talk on the phone with a hands-free device or when the car is in neutral or park on the roadway (such as in construction).

Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD, LLC offers legal advice for driving offenders of all ages. If you have a case you would like to discuss,contact us today.

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