Major Changes to Illinois Law: Speed Limit, Felony Probation, Cigarette Butts, etc.
January 1, 2014 we will not only be welcoming in a new year, but also some changes to Illinois law. Below we will briefly go through some of the more controversial amendments and new statutes.
2nd Chance Probation
This amendment that was signed into law in August of 2013 will go into effect January 1, 2014 as well. The law allows for first offenders of certain criminal offenses to avoid having a felony conviction of a felony on their record for certain non-violent offenses. It will also streamline the expungement process in Illinois.
When convicted of a felony, the chances of obtaining employment and further educational opportunities become limited. Thus, by avoiding the conviction, the hope is that people will use this second chance to become a productive member of society.
Tom Cross (R-Oswego) sponsored HB 3010 and states, “Our criminal justice system should reflect the fact that not all offenders are the same; and that for some, probation is the appropriate punishment. This law gives courts that greater discretion and helps more offenders earn back their independence and ability to support themselves and their families.”
Only certain people will qualify for this type of probation; there are certain prerequisites needed to be offered 2nd Chance probation. The offender cannot have a prior conviction for a felony charge and will only qualify if they are charged with defined non-violent class 3 or 4 level offenses.
The full statute can be found (http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/98/098-0164.htm)
Hand Held Cell Phones
A general ban on all hand held cell phones while driving will go into effect January 1, 2014. Cell phones may still be used with hands free technology such as Bluetooth. For a first offense drivers can expect a $75 fine. Every violation after that will increase by $25, and will be capped at a maximum fine of $125.
There are criminal charges that can be charged if the “distracted driver” causes an accident involving great bodily harm or death to a fellow motorist.
Online Voter Registration
This law does not go into effect until July 1, 2014, but will allow unregistered voters to register online. The law does not provide for any actual voting to be done online. This should appeal to the younger generation and make registering to vote even easier than it already is.
Please refer to previous article, “A Review of Concealed Carry Legislation in Illinois.”
Although entertaining to see what the legislature focuses on, I will be brief. Beginning January 1, 2014 anyone under the age of 18 will not be able to use a tanning bed. Spray tanning is exempt.
The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, legalizes medical marijuana for a trial four year period. It is one the strictest medicinal cannabis laws in the country.
This Law allows for 60 dispensaries across the state of Illinois. Only 22 licensed growers will be allowed and will be divided up by 22 Illinois State Police districts in Illinois. Out of state prescriptions will not be valid in the State of Illinois. Patients qualifying for medical cannabis must suffer from one of forty defined illnesses under the act.
It will be interesting to see how this legislation will affect Illinois’ zero tolerance policy on drugged driving. Specifically, a driver with any amount of drug in their system is deemed to be “under the influence” whether intoxicated by the compound or not.
Starting January 1st the statute regarding litter has been amended to specifically include cigarette butts. 405 ILCS 105. The statute’s penalty provisions however were left untouched. Now flicking a butt from a car window or into the street can earn you a misdemeanor.
The punishment for violating the litter statute is set forth in 405 ILCS 105/8 as,
Any person convicted of a violation of Section 4, 5, 6 or 7 is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. A second conviction for an offense committed after the first conviction is a Class A misdemeanor. A third or subsequent violation, committed after a second conviction is a Class 4 felony.
The penalties for a first offense allow for a maximum of up to a $1500 fine and six months in jail. The punishment for a second offense provides for up to a $2500 fine and up to a year in jail. And finally, a third offense could earn you a felony conviction with a sentencing range of up to $25,000 fine, up to 30 months’ probation and 1 to 3 years in prison. (http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/98/HB/09800HB3243.htm)
It will be interesting to see how this in enforced. It will provide peace officers yet reason to pull over “suspicious” vehicles. At this point we will have to wait and see how this will be enforced statewide.
As with any new legislation we will have to wait and see how it is implemented and enforced. We would recommend consulting an attorney to address any specific questions or concerns.
A note to the reader: This article is intended to provide general information and is not intended to be a substitute for competent legal advice. Competent legal counsel should be consulted if you have questions regarding compliance with the law.
Have questions about this or any other legal matter? Please contact Kesler, Nelson, Garman, Brougher & Townsley, P.C. at 217.446.0880 or online at www.danvillelawyers.com.