Ads remind drivers about cell phone law

Published 02/14 2014 11:49AM

Updated 02/14 2014 11:56AM

ILLINOIS -- You may start seeing more commercials targeting drivers as the state tries to get the word out about a law that's now about a month-and-a-half old. You can't use your handheld cell phone while you're driving anymore. It's a hard habit to break. That's why IDOT and other agencies are taking to the airwaves. WCIA-3's Steve Staeger finds out how violators are being handled.

So far, fewer than 30 tickets have been written in the area, but it still doesn't mean you should grab for your phone while you're behind the wheel.

"For so long, people have just been used to talking on their phones, so it's an adjustment for everybody."

Sangamon County Deputy Wes Wooden has seen a few traffic laws change in his eight years behind the wheel of a squad car. But, this one may be the toughest for people to remember.

"People are not yet used to this law. They forget about it. By habit, they pick up their phone and start talking on it. Or, they dial home to see what's for supper."

Wooden's boss, Undersheriff Jack Campbell, says, since people are having trouble adjusting, the county is taking it easy on them. Since January, the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department has written eleven warnings for the rule, but no tickets.

In Champaign County, there were eight total tickets. Macon County had the most with 16 so far. But now that it's been almost two months, the adjustment period may be winding down.

"You'll see the deputies getting a little more aggressive about writing citations instead of a warning."

In a half hour with Deputy Wooden, it was hard to spot anyone on their phone, until we saw one woman while heading back to the station.

"When I went up there to speak with her and ask her about using the cell phone, she said she had it in her hand, up by her face, but she was not actually using the phone, so it's just going to be one of those things that's not always going to be the easiest to prove. But, she was happy to get a warning and not a ticket and I don't think she'll be using her cell phone anymore while she's driving."

The sheriff's department wants to remind drivers the law means a device must be completely hands-free. So, you can't have the speakerphone on while the phone is still in your hand. If you get caught, you could face a fine starting at $75.

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