‘Julie’s Law’ takes aim at speeders
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS July 20, 2012 9:52PM
Updated: August 23, 2012 10:47AM
Julie Gorczynski was fresh out of high school, with her entire adult life ahead of her, when she was killed last year in a car wreck in Orland Park, hit by an alleged habitual speeder.
Friday, at Gorczynski’s high school — Lincoln-Way North in Frankfort — Gov. Pat Quinn signed a series of bills designed to reduce dangerous driving, including a bill known as “Julie’s Law.”
The law prohibits courts from granting supervision to anyone charged with going 30 mph or more over the speed limit on highways, and 25 mph over or more in urban areas. It is designed to prevent frequent speeders from keeping their driver’s licenses.
In the June 2011 accident that killed Gorczynski, at 135th Street and 88th Avenue, a speeding Mazda driven by Lukasz Marszalek, of Lemont, struck a Jeep in which Gorczynski was a passenger. She died about a half-hour later from multiple injuries from the crash, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
Marszalek was going at least 76 mph in a 40-mph zone before the crash, police said. He previously had been placed on court supervision seven times for excessive speeding, according to court records, allowing his driving record to be clean enough that he still had a license.
The new law, which takes effect next July, would prevent judges from granting supervision for excessive speeding cases.
Marszalek originally was charged with felony aggravated reckless driving in the crash that killed the 17-year-old Gorczynski, police said, but now faces misdemeanor aggravated speeding charges, according to a recent report.
The other measures Quinn signed into law will put Illinois drivers under more pressure to stay off their cell phones, including one that bans using a mobile device to take photos near an emergency scene.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called distracted driving a “national epidemic.” Studies have shown it’s a particularly acute problem among teenage and young adult drivers, another reason Lincoln-Way North was the site of Friday’s ceremony.
“These new laws will protect children and families and prevent dangerous trends such as speeding and distracted driving,” Quinn said.
One of the new measures prohibits the use of cell phones by drivers in all roadwork zones. Previously, that restriction applied only to work zones with speed-limit reductions.
Another bars commercial drivers from any hand-held cell phone use, bringing Illinois law in line with federal regulations. Both of those laws take effect Jan. 1.
One that goes into force immediately makes it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving within 500 feet of an emergency scene. That legislation also expands the definition of “electronic message” to prohibit using a cell phone to take photos near emergency sites.
In Illinois, it already is illegal to send or read text messages while driving. Also, cell phone use is prohibited in school zones.
The National Transportation Safety Board has called on states to get even tougher by considering complete bans on cell phone use by drivers, including the use of hands-free phones. Most studies show that hands-free conversations are just as distracting to drivers as those involving hand-held phones.
Contributing: Staff reports