Hammond, Tracy Bill Increasing Texting While Driving Penalty Passes Both Chambers

Springfield, IL…The Illinois General Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation from Assistant House Minority Leader Norine K. Hammond (R-Macomb) to increase the penalties for texting while driving.

“This day and age we are attached at the hip, or in this case hand, to our cell phones,” Rep. Hammond said. “People need to understand that this can lead to grievous injury and even death while driving. It is simply not worth it and that’s what this legislation is intended to hammer home.”

The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year and that nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. House Bill 2386 increases penalties for any person who uses an electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle, and the violation results in an accident causing great bodily harm to any person. The consequence of this illegal action will be the suspension of a driver’s license for one year and a fine of $1,000.

“It is against the law to text while driving, but that doesn’t seem to stop people,” Rep. Hammond continued. “It is my hope that by increasing the fine dramatically from the $75 dollars it is now, we can get drivers to think twice before looking down.”  

The legislation was inspired by a specific case in Rep. Hammond’s district that involved a texting driver who caused an accident where a man lost a limb. The man who was hit by the distracted driver suffered the loss of his leg and the driver who broke the law was only fined $75. The bill is supported by both the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and the Illinois Sheriffs Association.

“There’s never a time when a person is driving a car that a text can’t wait,” said Senate sponsor Jill Tracy (R-Quincy). “Texting while driving can have deadly consequences. This legislation will reduce accidents, increase alertness among Illinois drivers and make our roads safer.”

HB 2386 passed the Illinois House in April on an 82-24-2 vote and passed unanimously in the Senate on May 16th. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.