FGM Law covers how cell phone misuse can result in a criminal record

Most people don’t think that using their cell phones can be considered a criminal act, but in certain instances it can. Cell phone misuse now has new laws in place that Illinois residents should be aware of.

For the few who may not be aware of the new changes in Illinois law that went into effect Jan. 1, Joseph Ponitz, partner at FGM Law – Franks, Gerkin & McKenna, in Marengo, filled us in.

Joseph Ponitz speaks on cell phone misuse

Joseph Ponitz – partner at FGM Law

Using a cell phone or wireless device while driving, including a hands-free device is now illegal throughout the state of Illinois for drivers under the age of 19, except in the case of an emergency to contact a law-enforcement agency, health-care provider or emergency services agency, Ponitz said.

Cell phone/wireless use by drivers 19 and over is prohibited unless using a hands-free device.

The fines for breaking this law starts at $75. However, subsequent violations could run $150 and include a moving violation on your driving record. Rack up three moving violations in a year and you could lose your license.

Another new law hikes the penalties for drivers who injure or kill people in vehicular crashes they caused while using a cell phone or any other electronic device.

Causing injury while talking or texting can get you a Class A misdemeanor and fines up to $2,500 plus up to a year in the county jail. Causing death can result in a Class 4 felony, fines up to $25,000 and up to three years in a state prison.

A new non-cell-related law, regarding speeding, makes going 26 mph over the posted limit a Class B misdemeanor and speeding 35 mph or more over the limit a Class A misdemeanor, Ponitz said.

If you find yourself facing criminal charges, contact FGM Law for a free initial consultation and put more than 50 years of experience to work for you.