Jan. 1 not only marked the beginning of a new year, but also began the enforcement of more than 150 new laws in Illinois. Here is a description of several of the most notable new state laws:
•The use of cell phones by drivers in all construction zones is prohibited via Senate Bill 2488. Previously, this law only applied to work zones with speed limit restrictions.
•Mobile phone usage while driving within 500 feet of an emergency scene is prohibited via House Bill 5099.
•Commercial drivers are prohibited from using hand-held cell phones via House Bill 5101.
•Julie’s Law (starting July 2013) increases penalties for serious speed-limit violations. Courts may not grant supervision to individuals who speed 31 miles per hour or more above the speed limit on highways, or 25 miles per hour or more in urban areas, which includes cities and most small towns.
•“Caylee’s Law” was passed in response to the nationally-covered case surrounding the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, whose mother, Casey, failed to report her daughter missing and then lied about circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance and death. The new law will increase penalties for a parent, guardian or caretaker who fails to report the death or disappearance of a child 13 years or younger within 24 hours — or one hour if the child is younger than 2.
The law also expands the definition of obstruction of justice to parents, guardians or caretakers of a child younger than 13 who provide false information to law enforcement or other authorities investigating the child’s disappearance or death.
•Protecting the state’s elderly was the focus of new legislation that expands the list of people and state agencies that have access to any records generated in response to a report of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self-neglect investigations. Now, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and fire protection districts can be given a list of at-risk adults from relevant state agencies, to ensure local first responders are aware of possible past abuse and are better able to protect these senior citizens.
•A new law targets permissive parents of underage drinkers. House Bill 1554 cracks down on parents who permit underage drinking on property they own. The law makes it a crime to allow underage drinking not only at a parent’s home, but any property under their control — such as a barn, cabin or boathouse.
•Another law focuses on open meetings. House Bill 4687 requires public bodies (city councils, school boards, etc.) to take “reasonable steps” to ensure that a copy of all meeting notices and agendas are available for public review during the entire 48-hour period before the meeting.
•Under a new social media privacy law, employers won’t be able to demand access to the social media accounts of their employees. House Bill 3782 prohibits employers from requiring current or prospective employees to provide account information, including passwords.
•Illinois previously exempted family members from prosecution for harboring or aiding fugitives. Senate Bill 2520 creates a sub-offense of aiding a fugitive to flee the jurisdiction, targeting family members who try to help criminal suspects avoid apprehension.
•Senate Bill 1034 ensures that people who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence are not issued FOID cards. The law also restricts the issuance of FOID cards to non-Illinois residents and enhances mental health reporting to courts by the Illinois State Police.
•House Bill 2111 is aimed at putting a stop to “phone cramming,” where people are solicited for free trials, coupons or prizes, but never told they’re purchasing a service — until they receive a bill in the form of charges on their phone bill.
•Senate Bill 3452 imposes a $1,000 fine for those driving a motorcycle on one wheel while speeding. The law also dictates that handlebars can be no higher than the driver’s head. The previous law set the bar at the driver’s shoulders.