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Local

Agencies slow to ticket drivers using cellphones

With grace periods ending, that's set to change

STERLING – It's been a month now that Illinoisans have been barred from talking on their cellphones while driving. So far, police agencies have been taking it easy on the ticketing, but that's set to change.

The Illinois State Police, as Lt. John Biffany promised a month ago, has been the most strict with phone policing efforts. District 1 officers so far have given out 21 citations, and 45 written warnings, since the law took effect on Jan. 1. The district covers Whiteside, Lee, Carroll and Ogle counties.

Both the Sterling and Dixon police departments handed out only warnings for the month of January, doling out 15 and 16, respectively. Neither agency has issued a ticket.

In Rock Falls, police handled things a little differently. For the first 2 weeks of January, the agency handed out just warnings. Since then, however, Chief Mike Kuelper said, officers have issued 10 tickets.

The new law prohibits the use of hand-held devices while driving.

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

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

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