Summary: There is no prohibition on cell phone use while driving in Illinois except: (1) all cell phone use is prohibited while driving in a school zone; (2) all cell phone use is prohibited while driving in a highway construction zone, (3) all cell phone use is prohibited if you are a novice driver, or (4) handheld cell phone use is prohibited while driving in the City of Chicago and various other municpalities. All Illinois drivers are prohibited from texting.
Cell Phone Use
Cell phone use is permitted while driving in Illinois except both handheld and hands-free cell phones are prohibited: (1) while driving in a school zone; (2) while driving in a highway construction zone, or (3) if you are a novice driver -- younger than 19. Handheld cell phone use is prohibited while driving in the City of Chicago and in various other municipalities.
All Illinois drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Illinois’ anti-texting law (625 ILCS 5/12-610.2) states that “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send, or read an electronic message.” An electronic communication device" refers to a wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer that’s used for the purpose of composing, reading, or sending an electronic message. It doesn’t include a GPS or navigation system or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle. An electronic message refers to electronic mail, a text message, an instant message, or a command or request to access an Internet site.
There are exceptions for drivers texting (1) for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel during the emergency situation; (2) using a device in hands-free or voice-activated mode; (3) if the driver is parked on the shoulder of a roadway; or (4) when the vehicle is stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and the driver has the motor vehicle transmission in neutral or park.
Bus drivers are prohibited from texting and cell phone use while driving.
How is it Enforced?
Illinois’s cell phone and texting laws are considered “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation. A secondary law refers to the fact that an officer can only pull you over and issue a ticket if the officer has witnessed some other violation – for example, you ran a stop light while texting.
Read more about Illinois’s distracted driving laws.