2017 Sees Increased Fines, Expanded Laws
The Chicago Sun Times reports a slate of Illinois new driving laws went into effect in 2017.
Scott’s Law, also known as Chapter 625 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, requires drivers to slow down or change lanes when driving by a stopped emergency vehicle. Starting in 2017, the law covers any vehicle on the side of the road with flashing hazard lights, including passenger cars and commercial trucks.
The law specifically states drivers must “yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that of the authorized emergency vehicle, if possible with due regard to safety and traffic conditions, if on a highway having at least 4 lanes with not less than 2 lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approach vehicle.”
If changing lanes is impossible or unsafe, the law requires drivers to “proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, and maintain a safe speed for road conditions.”
Illinois lawmakers initially created the law after the 2000 death of Lt. Scott Gillen, a Chicago firefighter killed by a drunk driver. Gillen was assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Police officials stated that violators could face fines upwards of $10,000, driver’s license suspension from 90 days to two years or in extreme cases jail time.
Higher penalties for speeding through work or school zones went into effect in 2017 as well. Speeding between 26 and 35 miles per hour over the posted limit is now considered a Class B misdemeanor, and speeding past 35 miles per hour is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
Those convicted of driving without insurance can now have their vehicles impounded if they are stopped by police within a year of their first citation.
“The new year usually brings new resolutions and goals,” Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz said in a statement. “In 2017 the ISP resolves to continue to work towards strengthening safe driving habits for motorists on Illinois roadways.”
Fines for evading lowered railroad crossing gates also doubled this year. The Illinois Vehicle Code was amended to increase fines for disregarding activated railroad crossing gates and warning lights to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
The Illinois Commerce Commission said 120 crashes occurred at Illinois train crossings in 2016. Those crashes killed 22 people and severely injured 43 others. Illinois has more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 7,674 public railroad crossings. Illinois ranks third in the United States for highway-rail crashes, behind only Texas and California.
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