70 mph coming to parts of Will County
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org December 27, 2013 9:32PM
Updated: December 29, 2013 9:39PM
The new 70 mph speed limit in Illinois goes into effect on Jan. 1, but not so fast.
The higher speed limit only will be permitted on interstate highways and not on urban stretches of the interstates. In Will County, speed limits will be lowered as interstate motorists approach Joliet. And, 70 mph will not be allowed at all on the Interstate 355 tollway.
Driving at any speed while talking on a hand-held cell phone becomes illegal in the new year.
It will take a couple of weeks for 70 mph signs to be posted, so drivers should wait until the signs are up. They will be installed from Jan. 2 to 17.
Drivers also should beware that the state is stiffening penalties for excessive speeding.
But, here is where 70 mph will apply in Will and Grundy counties, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Interstate 55: 70 mph will be posted through Grundy County and into Will County, ending just south of Joliet.
Interstate 80: 70 mph will be posted through Grundy County and into Will County, ending at Joliet.
Interstate 57: 70 mph will be allowed through Will County and will end at U.S. 30, which is just north of the Will-Cook county line.
Along with the higher speeds will come stiffer penalties for motorists taking it too far.
Going 26 mph over the speed limit now will be a Class B misdemeanor, an offense that kicks in when going 31 mph above the limit. The bail for such speeds has gone from no more than $160 now to $1,500 in the new year.
Exceeding the speed limit by 35 mph becomes a Class A misdemeanor with bail set at $2,000 in 2014.
Talking on a hand-held cell phone also can be costly, especially for drivers who cause accidents.
The state for the first time has defined offenses for drivers who cause injuries or death while distracted by talking on a hand-held cell phone.
“This clearly defines it, whereas before it wasn’t specific to cell phones,” said Sgt. Matt Boerwinkle with the Illinois State Police. “It was distracted driving.”
Drivers who cause a fatality while distracted by talking on a hand-held cell phone can be charged with a Class 4 felony, which can be sentenced with up to three years in jail and fines up to $25,000. Accidents that cause injuries are Class A misdemeanors that can be punished by up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
Talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving is punishable by fines of $75 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense, $125 for the third offense, and $150 for every offense after that.
The cell phone ban does not apply to Bluetooth headsets, ear pieces, and voice-activated command devices. It also does not apply to police, firefighters and other first responders, or to drivers reporting emergencies and drivers parked on roadway shoulders.