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New Illinois Traffic Laws 2017

"Obey the traffic laws" sign

The Illinois State Legislature has been at it again! The New Year often brings dozens of new Illinois traffic laws, and 2017 is no different as several significant changes to the vehicle code take effect January 1st. The purpose behind the change is to “promote safe driving habits.”

1) Change to “Dennis’s Law” – Beware of bicyclists!

“Dennis’s Law” is not a new law, but it has been changed to clarify responsibilities regarding bikes. Part of the problem with traffic laws regarding bicycles is lack of clarity – bicycles operate in that twilight zone between vehicles and pedestrians. Starting 2017, Dennis’s Law now makes clear that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles – which includes right-of-way laws. The takeaway is simple: give your friendly neighborhood bicyclist a wide berth whenever you are in a vehicle.

2) Change to Scott’s Law – Slow down and move over!

Scott’s Law is not a new law either, but has been significantly amended. Scott’s Law is the basic “move over” and slow down law regarding emergency vehicles. The law requires that upon approaching a stopped emergency vehicle, the driver slow down and change lanes. The 2017 amendment now includes ANY VEHICLE on the side of the road with hazard lights flashing. Takeaway: see flashing lights on the side of the road, change lanes and proceed slowly.

3) Miscellaneous Changes – Speeding, Insurance, and RR Crossings.

There are several minor traffic law tweaks for 2017 and chronicling all of them would put you to sleep. Instead, three of the most significant changes are below.

First, be careful when driving through a school/work zone – speeding can now warrant jail time. Specifically, 26-35 mph over is now a Class B misdemeanor. If you are caught going 35+ in these areas, you can be charged with a Class A.

Second, driving without insurance is even more dangerous in 2017. If you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance, it is now possible for the police to impound your car.

Third, don’t go around lowered rail-road crossing gates – ever. We all know not to go around the gates, but it can be tempting at times. Unfortunately, the possible fines for this driving infraction have doubled: a first offense will cost you at least $500 and a second offense starts at $1000.

Drive safe, drive smart. Contact the Illinois lawyers at Johnson Westra Broecker Whittaker & Newitt, P.C. with your traffic concerns and to discuss representation.

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