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New laws will soon affect Illinois drivers

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(The Center Square) – There are plenty of new laws set to take effect in the new year that will impact Illinois motorists.

Beginning Jan. 1, no vehicle shall be stopped or searched by law enforcement solely because of an object placed or suspended between the driver and front windshield, rear windshield, side wings, or side windows. State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, is the sponsor of the so-called “rearview mirror law.”

“Whether it is for an air freshener, in their mind, they are thinking that this person is going to harm me, and so why increase the chance of law enforcement being in situations that are non-life threatening,” said Ford.

The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police were opposed to the legislation.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will be taking part in a pilot program to establish a low-clearance early warning device system for viaducts and underpasses with a clearance of less than 15 feet in an effort to prevent truck collisions with bridge overpasses.

Also on Jan. 1, a new law prohibits people from using social media or video calling apps while driving in Illinois.

“I am proud of the collaborative work we have done to protect Illinois drivers and ensure safe practices while driving in Illinois,” said state Sen. Javier Cervantes, D-Chicago. “This law will take action against drivers who neglectfully put others’ lives at risk.”

A new law directs the Illinois Department of Transportation to develop an app to help drivers stay informed about driving and weather conditions.

Some Republicans estimated that the app could cost over $2 million to launch, and suggested that IDOT connect with online vendors like Google or Apple to develop a plug-in with their applications. A fiscal note on the bill puts the taxpayer cost of the initial development at $2,515,000 with an annual cost of $775,000 for maintenance.

“I don’t believe it will cost millions of dollars,” State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana. “It will cost them a little effort for them to recruit a student who is in engineering, who is in computer science, in order to create this app and to maintain it if they want to do that.”

Two new laws affect motorcyclists. Motorcycle license exams will no longer be required for residents under the age of 18, though they’ll still have to complete a training course. Another forbids auxiliary lighting on motorcycles from emitting blue lights and may only emit red light if they are braking.

Another law requires operators of ambulances or other rescue vehicles to have specified training in the operation of that vehicle.

There are several license plate-related measures, including decals for autism awareness, a Lyme Disease Research decal, and a United States Submarine Veterans plate will be available. Each decal has different ways the specialty fee is split. For the “Thank a Line Worker” license plate decals, $10 of each original issuance and $23 of each renewal shall be deposited into the “Thank a Line Worker Scholarship Fund.”

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