Enforcement challenges for Illinois cell phone law

Law enforcement dealing with the challenges of 2014 cell phone law in Illinois.

Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard says that on its surface, the new cell phone law that went into effect in January appears to be pretty straight forward.

"The new cell phone while driving law prohibits in a general sense the use of a cell phone while you're operating a motor vehicle," Barnard said.

The law allows for some exceptions including cell phone use in an emergency and activating hands free cell phone use by hitting one button on the phone.

And its those exceptions that are creating challenges for law enforcement across Illinois including the Quincy Police Department according to Deputy Chief Doug Vandermaiden.

"The texting is pretty easy for us cause we can actually see people texting," Vandermaiden said. "That challenge is when people are actually on their cell phones. What we try to do is determine that they're not violating the law when they get on those phones."

Barnard says these exemptions make the law harder to enforce.

"So I think that's why we have not seen as many prosecutions of these kinds of cases," Barnard said. "In terms of the proof it's very difficult to assemble that and determine that on the front end."

Despite these challenges, Deputy Chief Vandermaiden warns people not to use those exceptions as excuses to violate the law.

"Although there are some challenges to the law, we do have some guidelines that we're going to follow and we're gonna continue to enforce it when people are in violation," Vandermaiden said.

In the end, technology may make the challenges of this law a moot point.

"I would not be surprised if technology will trump all of this with the development that finds us being able to with voice commands initiate a phone call," Barnard said. "And that technology is already out there so the whole cell phone discussion. The whole cell phone use while driving fuss may be obsolete."

Tickets range from between $75 and $150 depending upon the number of times you have violated the law.