Illinois: Ticket Happy on the Interstates!

This post is mainly for my fellow Illinois residents as well as those planning to travel in our great socialist state.

Did you know that it is illegal to use your cell phone in Illinois while passing through a construction zone?  I, unfortunately, found out the hard way while traveling on I-55 south on my way back to St. Louis.  Since Illinois is mostly all a construction zone, this means you can only use your phone between mile marker 112 and 115.  Better talk quick!

Was I using my cell phone in a construction zone?  Yes.  I was actually calling home to let them know I was going to be late because of miles and miles of construction where I saw no one working.  Yeah, I know, the law has nothing to do with the health and well-being of the construction workers, it’s all about the safety of the other drivers, right?

Here is the statute from ILCS 625 ILCS 5/12‑610.1

(e) A person, regardless of age, may not use a wireless telephone at any time while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway in a school speed zone established under Section 11‑605, or on a highway in a construction or maintenance speed zone established under Section 11‑605.1. This subsection (e) does not apply to (i) a person engaged in a highway construction or maintenance project for which a construction or maintenance speed zone has been established under Section 11‑605.1, (ii) a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity, (iii) a law enforcement officer or operator of an emergency vehicle when performing the officer’s or operator’s official duties, or (iv) to a person using a wireless telephone in voice‑activated mode.

I spent the week in several areas of Illinois and the last month in several other states.  I have seen some signs as I entered construction zones that indicated that cell phone use is prohibited in this area but could not remember what state or area prohibited it, and if so, why.  No such sign existed before entering any of the dozen or so construction zones while traveling down I-55 from Chicago to St. Louis.  Bad luck for me, as I’ll be out $120 for the ticket.

Illinois is broke.  The state cannot afford to give the money to our schools that we as residents so graciously give each year in property taxes.  Why should I be surprised to find out I broke a law that I didn’t know about?  Heck, I didn’t even know I couldn’t use my phone in a school zone, unless of course I have a hands free device.  Both are distracting, truth be told.

I’m curious if anyone else knows about the existence of this law.  Feel free to take my quick yes – no poll here:

So if you are driving through Illinois, watch out.  Put the cell phone down while in a construction zone and watch out for those ticket happy state troopers.  Remember, they have to fund all the wonderful programs for the state!

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Rob’s Rant

Feel free to take my quick poll on this issue: