Using a cellphone while driving would be illegal under a measure approved Thursday by the Illinois House, despite critics arguing it would be an unnecessary government intrusion into citizens’ lives.
The proposal would make an exception for drivers who use a “hands-free” device to make calls. Drivers would be allowed to make calls that use a single button to dial and speakerphone functions.
It also contains an exception for emergencies. Drivers claiming an emergency would have to appear in court to offer proof.
The bill narrowly passed 62-53 and moves to the Senate.
Using a cellphone while driving would be a moving violation, like a speeding ticket. Three moving violations in a year and drivers can lose their license.
Critics said the bill puts unnecessary restrictions on drivers, especially in areas where a driver may not see another car for miles.
Rep. Richard Morthland, R-Moline, said the bill would be a “blight” against Illinois, increasing its reputation as a “nanny state trying to overregulate the lives of its citizens.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, said he shares some of those concerns.
“In my gut, this bill troubles me. It makes me feel somewhat that we’re being a nanny overseeing everything that a driver tries to do,” Harris said.
Despite his reservations, he said the measure is necessary to keep motorists from being distracted and endangering themselves and others on the road. Harris said the state ban would have “more teeth” than a similar ordinance in Chicago that carries a $100 penalty.
The bill would not apply to police officers or truckers using CB radios.