A new year means new laws. The state legislature has passed more than 200 new laws and regulations, many of which went into effect on January first.
We took a closer look at a few laws you may need to know about:
Talking and Driving
Driving with a phone up to your ear can now cost you $75 or more if you get caught, as Illinois becomes the 12th state to ban talking and driving on your cell phone.
You can however talk on the phone using an earpiece or through your car’s Bluetooth. The only exceptions to talking on a hand held device is in case of an emergency, if parked on the shoulder, or if stuck in traffic when the car is in park or neutral.
“Drivers are always preoccupied and cell phones have always been a problem and an issue with accidents,” said Sgt. Bill Davis, Public Information Officer with the Naperville Police Department. “They’re trying to reduce the number of accidents by people being tied up on their phones using their hands. This is one way. It keeps it hands free, keep hands on the wheel and doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Chicago has had the same restriction since 2006.
Increase in Speed
While you might not be able to talk, you can go five miles an hour faster on most Illinois highways.
Nearly 90% of Illinois interstates are increasing their speed limit from 65 to 70 miles per hour. However, highways here and throughout the Chicagoland area are exempt from the increase.
“The law really doesn’t affect us. The speed limits are pretty much going to be the same in the City of Naperville unless the council deems to change some of the roadways,” said Davis.
One change that will be enforced in Naperville, tossing cigarette butts now counts as littering. The first offense will be a Class B misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $1,500, the second, a Class A, and the third a Class 4 felony, with a fine of up to $25,000.
One of the biggest changes this year, Illinois is now the final state that allows its residents to conceal and carry a firearm.
Beginning this month, Illinois residents can begin applying for a concealed carry license, but it will still be a while before they can carry the weapon.
In order to obtain a license, you must have a valid FOID card and go through 16 hours of training.
For police it means an extra precaution when making a stop.
“We always have to keep in mind when we make a stop that they may have a weapon on them, permit or not,” said Davis. “It’s a safety factor. Officers go into situations and keep that in mind. As for the law itself, the person who has a permit and has a firearm on them have to inform the officer that they are carrying a firearm.”
Governor Pat Quinn recently selected seven people to a new Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board, including Naperville resident John Diwik.
Even with a permit there are a number of places you can’t carry a firearm, such as schools, government buildings and hospitals. Privately owned businesses can choose whether to allow guns. If they opt not to, a sign must be placed at their entrance.
Another big change is medical marijuana.
In July, Illinois became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. The four-year trial program will be the strictest in the country.
The prescribing doctor must have a prior ongoing relationship with the patient, and must find that the patient has one of 42 chronic conditions like cancer, AIDS, or multiple sclerosis.
A patient cannot be prescribed more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana over two weeks.
Patients would have to buy the marijuana from one of 60 dispensing centers throughout the state and would not be allowed to legally grow their own. Here in Naperville, city council members voted to allow dispensaries in industrial areas throughout the city.
Middle schoolers and high schoolers should prepare to roll up their sleeves. A new law mandates that students receive a meningitis vaccine when entering 6th grade, then get two doses when going into 12th grade.
While the shot has been recommended for years, recent outbreaks of the inflammatory disease convinced the state legislature to make it mandatory.
Although the law goes into effect January 1st, the DuPage County Health Department says administrative rules still need to be written, so it will likely not be implemented until the 2015 – 2016 school year.
Another law along the lines of youth health pertains to tanning beds.
Those 17 and younger can no longer use a tanning bed, even with parental consent.
State lawmakers hope this will reduce the risk of developing skin cancer at a young age.
To view a full list of all the laws taking effect in 2014 visit illinois.gov.
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