FGM Law covers how misuse of cell phones 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.

For the few who may not be aware of 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.

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 age 19, except in the case of an emergency to contact a law-enforcement agency, health-care provider or emergency services agency, Ponitz said.

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

Fines for breaking this law starts at $75, but 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 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.