Hinderman: Drivers need to be aware of new laws
By Laura Hinderman Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org January 16, 2014 1:20PM
Updated: February 20, 2014 6:10AM
You may be aware of some of the new laws effective Jan. 1 in Illinois, but you also may be confused about what they actually mean. I contacted the Orland Park Police Department to get some clarification on some of the new laws that may affect us in town.
I’ll focus on a few that will impact traffic, safety and other issues in and around Orland Park. Police Sgt. Scott Malmborg said that perhaps the biggest change for drivers is the law regarding the use of cellphones while driving.
It’s now against the law for anyone under age 18 to operate a vehicle while using a cellphone, even by using a hands-free device. It’s also now a traffic violation for anyone, regardless of age, to use a handheld phone while driving unless it’s in certain emergency situations.
Otherwise, those over 18 must use a hands-free phone, including a voice-activated phone, while operating a motor vehicle.
Additionally, the use of any electronic communication device is prohibited while driving. That means you may not compose, send or read any electronic messages (email, Facebook, texts, etc.).
Looking at the device for a few seconds diverts your attention from traffic and can be life-threatening.
I asked for a further clarification regarding GPS systems. Malmborg said Orland Park police will be enforcing the law similarly — only in-dash systems or a mounted GPS unit (or other mapping device) are allowed.
Any device that is handheld (even a non-mounted GPS) or that looks like a cellphone or is a cellphone that has mapping functions or apps will be considered to be in violation.
Another traffic-related rule clarifies what is allowed while driving in construction zones.
Operating a motor vehicle in a construction zone (or maintenance area) at a speed in excess of the posted speed limit is prohibited whether workers are present or not.
With the ongoing construction project to widen LaGrange Road (and other street projects in the village) please be sure to observe the posted speed limit, which can change due to construction schedules.
Also, if you operate a two-wheeled motor vehicle (not bicycles) you may not pass on the right of any other vehicle in the same direction unless the pavement is unobstructed and has a width of at least eight feet.
That means you may not pass a vehicle on the shoulder if you are operating a motorcycle or scooter.
So, now you’re driving in your car, listening to music, obeying the speed limit in the construction zones, not using a handheld phone or testing or emailing. Anything else that you should be aware of? Yes, the new anti-littering law.
It’s a violation to throw from the car any trash — be it a cigarette butt, food, wrapper, paper cup, gum, candy, etc.
There’s also a new law that allows you to be fined $150 if you willfully fail or refuse to comply with a directive from any police officer, auxiliary officer, firefighter or person authorized by local authority to direct traffic, including crossing guards.
A new Illinois law that has received the most news coverage is the legalization of medical marijuana, which took effect Jan. 1 under a pilot program. However, the drug will not be available for several months because the law gives the state until May 1 to establish rules for the program.
Three state agencies are doing so and must submit their report to a bipartisan legislative panel.
Under the law, a patient must obtain a doctor’s written permission to use the drug, and patients will be allowed no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
The rules will cover everything from what ailments are covered beyond the 40 illnesses spelled out in the law, who can be licensed as a dispensary or growing center and what constitutes a physician-patient relationship.