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Can I Use GPS While Driving Under the New Hands-Free Law in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2019 | Traffic Violations |

Wheaton, IL traffic violation attorney gps cell phone

Distracted driving involves any activity that takes a motorist’s attention away from safely operating a vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers every day in the United States. However, many of today’s drivers rely on their smartphones as a navigation tool while traveling. Even if it is a place to which they go often, global positioning system (GPS) apps may be used by drivers to find the fastest route to their destination. Under a new Illinois law that went into effect on July 1, 2019, using an electronic device while driving can result in a traffic violation for the driver. Even if a motorist is simply holding a cell phone when behind the wheel, he or she can be stopped and issued a traffic ticket.

New Illinois Moving Violation Law

Prior to the new law, if a driver was stopped for using a cellular phone or electronic device while driving, that was considered an “equipment violation.” This meant offenders did not risk suspension or revocation of their driver’s license by the Illinois Secretary of State. Under the old law, a warning was issued for a first offense, and subsequent tickets issued were non-moving violations.

Under the new law, all offenses involving driving while using an electronic device are considered moving violations. Three moving violations within a one-year period will result in driver’s license suspension for drivers 21 years and older. Drivers under 21 who receive two moving violations within a year will lose their license. The most common device is a cell phone, but the law also includes tablet computers and almost any mobile device with a screen.

It is important to note that GPS or other navigation systems that are physically integrated into the vehicle are not considered “electronic communication devices.” Thus, if a navigation device is permanently mounted within or on the car’s dashboard, it is okay to use and would not fall under the new moving violation law.

There are several other instances in which the new law does not apply, such as:

  • A police officer or emergency vehicle operator performing official duties
  • A driver using an electronic device to report an emergency
  • A driver using a phone in hands-free mode (e.g., headset, headphones, Bluetooth)

When Can I Use My Phone for GPS?

Illinois motorists can use their phones as a GPS for directions as long as they are not taking their hands off the wheel to operate it. For example, a driver is permitted to use his or her cell phone if the following situations apply:

  • It is hands-free.
  • It is voice-operated.
  • The vehicle is parked on the side of the road.
  • The vehicle is stopped in traffic, and it is in park or neutral.

A motorist is also permitted to press a single button to initiate or terminate a call on his or her mobile phone while operating a vehicle. It is important to note that this only applies to drivers who are over the age of 19. Cell phone use is allowed with earphones, as long as the sound goes through only one ear. Drivers are also allowed to use voice-to-text with hands-free devices.

Contact a DuPage County Traffic Violation Attorney

Traffic laws in Illinois are becoming stricter in an effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Using your cell phone while operating a motor vehicle can lead to traffic violations, and it could potentially cause you to lose your driver’s license. If you or someone you know is facing charges related to violating a traffic law, you need professional legal guidance. Our dedicated Wheaton moving violation defense lawyers will review the circumstances of your traffic stop to determine if your rights were violated. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 630-877-5800.