New Year means new laws in Illinois; Tanning, cell phones, marijuana, voting all affected in 2014

December 31, 2013 (CHICAGO)

What do tanning, cell phones, marijuana and voting have in common? They are all part new state laws that begin Wednesday.

While the city of Chicago and several Illinois towns already ban handheld cell phones while driving, the new statewide law takes it one step further by making the offense a moving violation.

"So if you get stopped three times in one year, you can lose your license," said State Representative John D'Amico. "We figured we had to put some teeth in the bill if we want to correct the problem."

If you are under 18 years old and want to tan for New Years Eve, Tuesday is the last day to do it in the state of Illinois. Beginning Wednesday, it becomes illegal for teenagers under 18 to use tanning beds at salons.

Because Chicago already has a similar law, Soleil in the West Loop asks many of its customers for identification. The salon's owner thinks an age requirement is ridiculous.

"It's like telling kids, 'You can't go in the sun,'" said Soleil owner Marc Winner. "I think the parents should have more authority of what kids should do."

While teens aren't old enough to tan, they can vote. Next year, 17 years olds who will be 18 by the November election, can register and vote in Illinois' March 18 primary.

"Experience shows when young people, particularly teens, get involved early they tend to stay involved the rest of their lives," said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

A new Illinois law limiting disability parking placards goes into effect Wednesday. The law allows free metered parking for drivers who receive placards based on a recommendation from their doctor.

However, the city will not start issuing tickets until January 16 and the state's medical marijuana law begins January 1 as well.

While the medical marijuana law begins Wednesday, those sick enough to qualify will have to wait several months. State agencies still need to coordinate their efforts to oversee the creation and management of medical marijuana before seriously ill patients can receive it.

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