The new year is fast approaching along with a new list of more than 200 new laws for Illinois. From seat belts in the back seat to truck drivers and their cell phones, you'll want to know many of these new laws before you get behind the wheel.
As of January 1, 2012, buckle up regardless of what seat you're riding in or how old you are. Currently, only passengers under the age of 19 are required to buckle up. After the new year, all passengers, front and back seat, will be required to use a seat belt. If caught not wearing your seat belt, fines for violators will start at $25.
According to Patch.com, these laws also take effect Jan. 1:
US Veterans: Senate Bill 98 provides residents at federal veterans facilities with the same voting options and assistance as residents at state facilities and nursing homes.
Mental retardation: Senate Bill 1833 makes changes to language in state law to replace the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" and "crippled" with "physically disabled."
Murder/Invasion: House Bill 3238 expands the list of those arrested or convicted of certain crimes who are required to submit to DNA testing. Crimes include first-degree murder, home invasion, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault.
Child pornography: House Bill 3283 enacts tougher penalties for filming, videotaping or creating a moving image of child pornography, or possessing such items.
Child luring: Senate Bill 1038 provides tools to prosecute individuals who attempt to lure children for sexual purposes. Under the new law, individuals convicted of child luring must undergo a sex offender evaluation prior to sentencing. The law also increases the penalty to a Class 2 felony for the second offense when the person has a prior conviction of a sex offense.
Lasers: House Bill 167 prohibits shining a laser into a cockpit when a plane is taking off or landing.
Drugs: House Bill 2595 enacts new penalities for selling manufactured substances known as "cannabinoids," which produce a high similar to marijuana.
Hospitals: House Bill 1562 provides the public access to hospital report cards through the Illinois Department of Public Health website.
Business records: Senate Bill 43 provides access to information on income, sales, property and business taxes imposed across the state-all of which can be access through the Illinois Department of Revenue's website.
Fire Dept: House Bill 1359 allows fire departments to prohibit open burning on an emergency basis when wind, weather or other factors create a risk of fire spreading.
Gang prevention: House Bill 3033 establishes a statewide criminal street gang pr>>evention and intervention grant program, which will be operated by the Illinois Department of Justice using federal dollars.
Family of a veteran: House Bill 2875 states that the natural mother, father or spouse of an Illinois veteran, who was killed in the line of duty, is entitled to admission to Illinois veterans homes if there is space.
Child Care: House Bill 2099 requires all employees of licensed child care facilities who care for newborns or infants to complete training every three years on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and on safe sleep recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Student threats: House Bill 3281 allows a school board to suspend or expel a student who has made an explicit threat on a website against a school employee or student.
Open meetings: House Bill 1670 requires all current and future elected and appointed officials in Illinois to take Open Meetings Act training courses administered by the Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General's office.
Truck drivers: Another law of the road will take effect on January 3, 2012 for truckers everywhere. Truck drivers will no longer be able to use hand held mobile devices. Drivers won't be able to bypass this rule by using their speaker phone. It outlaws all mobile hand held phones completely. If you must use a phone, you're required to pull off the road and park your vehicle in a safe zone.