According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the number of cell phone tickets issued by Illinois State Police have tripled from this time last year. According to the report. From January 1 to April 30 of this year, state police wrote 3,307 tickets for distracted driving, nearly triple the number during the same period of 2013.
A first offense for driving and using a cell phone draws a $75 fine. If the distracted driver causes a car crash that injures someone, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable up to a year in jail. In Chicago, which had a total ban on cell phone use while driving prior to the state ban, police have issued 16,500 tickets so far this year.
I have written on this subject numerous times in the past and continuously called for stiffer penalties. I was happy to see the state step up and issue the complete ban, which started in 2014. I think a Class A misdemeanor charge is appropriate for distracted drivers cause a traffic accident that results in an injury (this is the same level of charge for a first time DUI). I think a $75 fine for a first time offense may be a little bit too lenient. Drivers are not putting down their phones, which is obvious by the increased number of tickets. If the state (and city of Chicago) want to prevent distracted driving then they should increase the fine and/or make it a moving violation.