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State to drivers: Stay off your cell

Local police say they’ll be lenient with ban at first

Published: Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

STERLING – Police agencies in the Sauk Valley will, for the most part, take it slow when it come to ticketing drivers after the cellphone ban takes effect Jan. 1.

No formal grace period has been declared by any local agency. Police chiefs from Dixon, Rock Falls and Sterling, and a lieutenant with the state police, all agreed that, while deciding whether to ticket a driver is always up to the officer at the scene, police are likely to be a little more lenient while residents get used to the cellphone ban.

“Officers usually consider the totality of the circumstances involved in the traffic stop,” state police Lt. John Biffany said. “What were the conditions of the roadway at the time. Are you in a school zone? Are you in a construction zone?”

The new law will prohibit the use of hand-held devices while driving, which, the Sterling Police Department noted in a news release, makes hands-free devices excellent holiday gifts.

“In 2011, 3,331 motorists were killed nationwide due to traffic crashes involving distracted drivers,” Biffany said. “So the big difference between this and the enforcement of other traffic laws is that this is a known cause of crashes.”

The potential fine for violating the law the first time will be $75, police say, and as much as $150 for any subsequent violations.

Since 2010, Illinois drivers have been prohibited from using cell phones in construction and school zones.

 

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