Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chicago Alderman Proposes Increase in Cell Phone Fines

City of Chicago Alderman Vi Daley, from Chicago's North Side, has proposed that the fine for driving while talking on a cell phone be increased from $75 to $100. In a story reported by the Chicago Sun-Times Ald. Daley's proposed amendment to the City ordinance would also increase the fine for accidents that occur while the person is on the phone from $200 to $500.

Anyone who rides on the City's streets knows that cell phones are a big problem. Riding a bike allows you to easily see inside of cars and it is astounding how many scofflaws don't adhere to this ordinance.

However, talking on a cell phone is only part of the issue. The City (and the State) need to address people texting and surfing the internet on the handheld devices. These activities require the person to look at the device and navigate it at the same time. This is at least as distracting as talking on a cell phone, if not even worse.

Here's the current ordinance:
9-40-260 Use of mobile telephones.

(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, no person shall drive a motor vehicle while using a mobile, cellular, analog wireless or digital telephone.

(b) The provisions of the ordinance shall not apply to:

(1) Law enforcement officers and operators of emergency vehicles, when on duty and acting in their official capabilities*.

(2) Persons using a telephone with a “hands free” device allowing the driver to talk into and listen to the other party without the use of hands.

(3) Persons using a telephone to call 911 telephone numbers or other emergency telephone numbers to contact public safety forces.

(4) Person using a telephone while maintaining a motor vehicle in a stationary parked position, and not in gear.

(c) Any person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to a fine of $75.00, provided however, that if a violation occurs at the time of a traffic accident, the driver may be subject to an additional fine not to exceed $200.00.

(Added Coun. J. 5-11-05, p. 49146, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 2-8-06, p. 70058, § 1)

*Editor’s note – As set forth in Coun. J. 5-1-05, p. 49146, § 1. Correct text appears to be “capacities.”