Cell phone ban could be coming for Illinois drivers


Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP/WPSD) - The Illinois House has approved a measure that would prohibit using cell phones while driving.
The 64-46 vote Friday moves the bill to the state Senate for consideration. The measure would force drivers to use hands-free devices or use speakerphone features for calls.
Police would be able to stop and ticket drivers holding a cell phone except during emergency situations. Chicago Democrat Rep. John D'Amico says 76 Illinois communities, including Chicago, already ban talking on phones and driving.
Opponents like Republican Mike Bost say the bill goes too far. 

"If you start down this path of a cell phone, then you can also say,  'Well, don't touch the radio'," said Bost. He said the debate went on the house floor for about an hour. Other opponents say the bill is unfair to individuals with hearing problems and those who cannot afford high-tech phones. D'Amico touted his measure as a public-safety matter.

Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder said he would be in favor of more significant cell phone laws, but even though the bill would make talking on a cell phone a primary offense, he wouldn't have the man power to treat it that way. 

"It would be hard for a sheriff's department like mine to prioritize cell phone use in cars," he said. "That would be a secondary enforcement for us."  

The bill would still allow hands-free devices and calls in emergency situations. Texting while driving is already illegal in Illinois.