New Illinois laws for 2010

January 1, 2010 6:37:26 PM PST
This January 1st marks the beginning of new laws here in Illinois. One expected to affect many people is a ban on texting while driving. The new laws in Illinois range from beefing up the state's freedom of information act so the media and citizens can get public documents from government agencies.

Also, semis will now be allowed to drive 65 mph on rural interstates just like other vehicles.

Some of the other big laws have to do with cell phones and babies.

"It will give parents more time to think about this forever after permanent decision," said Dawn Geras, founder of Save Abandoned Babies Foundation.

Geras worked to extend the window from 7 to 30 days after birth for parents to anonymously give up an unharmed baby. Newborns can be turned over to personnel at hospitals, police or fire stations, no questions asked.

If you're someone who spends a lot of time texting, it's now illegal to send or read text messages while driving in Illinois.

"Upon conviction, it would be a mark against your driving record. Three of those means a suspension of your driver's license but there are also fines that range from $75 to $150," said Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State.

Fees also go up for annual license plate registration stickers and plates, from $79 to $99.

Also in Illinois, a ban on handheld phone conversations while driving in construction or school zones. Traffic safety advocates say the laws, which reduce the distraction for drivers, will prevent accidents. Thomas Glasgow, a defense attorney, offered advice to drivers about the new laws.

"If you are in neutral or in park, it is legal to do so. If you have an emergency or 911, you can go ahead and utilize that, but you can't use it while you're driving," Glasgow said.

There are a total of nearly 300 new or amended Illinois laws that took effect at the stroke of midnight across the state.

It's hard to believe that most people didn't even know what a text message was at the beginning of the new millennium, now we have laws banning it behind the wheel.