- Don’t drive drunk! I know it seems needless to say, but DUI laws increase in severity every year. Get a designated driver or better yet a limo or a hotel room. Also Chicago provides free train rides on the CTA for New Year’s Eve to encourage celebrants to use public transportation. Your particular suburb may do the same.
- We all know celebrating the New Year is the best way to bring it in, but be careful! Don’t accept drinks from strangers in bars ever! Watch your drink and if it is out of your sight for any period, throw it away. And see #1 above!
- Curfew still applies on New Years Eve! In Illinois, a child under the age of 17 violates curfew when he or she lingers or stays in a public place or even a private business during curfew hours. Curfew hours are from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. Violating curfew is a petty offense carrying hefty fines ranging anywhere from $500 to $750 depending on location and a judge can hold the parent liable and order the parent to perform community service.
- Starting January 1st, cigarettes will be considered litter (HB 3243). Throwing them out of your vehicles is now a crime. A first time conviction is a Class B Misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1500. A second conviction is a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1500. Three or more convictions is a Class 4 felony, punishable by a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment up to three years. It’s time to get an ashtray for your car!
- Designated drivers (and everyone else in the car) should remember to ALWAYS wear their seatbelts! Better yet, see #1!
- Don’t drive on a suspended or revoked license! (SB 1735) This seems self-explanatory but every year I defend many cases involving people who do exactly this!!!
- Don’t forget Julie’s Law! Speeders exceeding the limit by more than 25 mph in a residential area are not eligible for court supervision. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1.
- Starting in 2014, driving and holding a cell phone is against the law (HB 1247). Penalties for distracted drivers who injure others or cause fatal crashes by the use of a cell phone would face a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in fines up to $2,500 and up to a year of jail time. Drivers involved in fatal accidents could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries fines up to $25,000 and up to three years of jail time. Using a hands-free device such as Bluetooth is now necessary if you plan on talking on the phone while driving.
- Passing school buses when they’re at a stop is already illegal, but now they have cameras to capture anyone who tries (SB 0923). Along those lines, there are now speed cameras throughout the city in addition to red light cameras and just like red light cameras they are almost impossible to contest!
10. If you drive through a tollway entrance or exit without paying this is an automatic $100.00 fine and if you do it too often, your name will go onto the Illinois Tollway website for all to see (SB 1214).
As much as I’d love your business this upcoming New Year, please follow these words of advice and stay safe!