SPRINGFIELD, IL (July 15, 2020) – As of July 1st, several new laws took effect, including a minimum wage increase, a law protecting sexual assault victims, and a law mandating the teaching of LGBTQ history in schools. Illinois residents will also enjoy new laws regarding driver’s license suspensions.
The Secretary of State will no longer suspend driver’s licenses or vehicle registration for unpaid parking fines and tollway violations. Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill in the new year and it has been in effect as of July 1, 2020. This new law will allow thousands of Illinois drivers to get their driving privileges back. However, Illinois added more severe penalties for residents who are caught texting while driving, and for crashes involving crosswalks and right-of-way violations.
The License to Work Act
The License to Work Act, or Senate Bill 1786, protects the right to travel to work. It states that drivers in Illinois should be able to drive back and forth to work, even if they cannot afford to pay fines.
In addition to unpaid parking fines and tollway tickets, the new law also removes suspension as a penalty for being judged to be a “truant minor,” and for criminal trespass to a vehicle. For those who already have suspended licenses for those reasons, their license is now reinstated.
In the case of drivers with unpaid parking tickets at risk of suspension, the new law mandates an ability-to-pay hearing. If the hearing determines they cannot pay their tickets, they can keep their license and the state offers a payment plan.
Why was it passed?
The legislation was largely a bipartisan effort in Springfield. Senators agreed that license suspension is counterintuitive because it often prevents people from being able to pay fees and tickets. The City of Chicago stopped license suspension for non-driving violations last year and many thought it was time for the state to follow.
According to license2work.org, “Nearly 50,000 Illinois licenses are suspended each year because drivers can’t pay tickets, fines, or fees and for other non-moving violations – reasons that have nothing to do with driving.” “Nearly 50,000 Illinois licenses are suspended each year because drivers can’t pay tickets, fines, or fees and for other non-moving violations – reasons that have nothing to do with driving.”
The position of the new law’s proponents is that suspending driver’s licenses causes job loss. They believe suspension should not be a tool to punish people living in poverty. With the coronavirus pandemic impacting working conditions more than ever, the law has become especially relevant.
For those whose driver’s licenses are suspended for ten or more parking tickets will have their suspensions lifted, providing they don’t have other serious driving convictions. The goal is to stop trapping drivers in a cycle of debt, allowing them to earn the money to pay off their parking fines and violations.
The bill also aims to combat racial disparities in traffic offenses. Supporters of the new law site that law enforcement in Illinois statistically searches and fines Black and Latino drivers more often than white drivers. The racial disparity in ticketing and collection practices enables a cycle of poverty for those affected.
The new law does not apply to moving violations
However, new state laws do not apply to moving violations. Drivers who receive three or more moving violations in a year could still have their licenses suspended. Some of these moving violations include speeding, running a stop sign, or a red light.
Illinois was one of the first in the United States to put a ban on texting while driving. State laws are continuing to take these violations very seriously. If a driver is caught texting while driving, or using a computer, and they cause a serious injury to a person, they will face a 12-month license suspension and a minimum fine of $1,000.
Drivers who violate the right of way at a crosswalk or in a school zone and cause injury will face a 12-month license suspension.
When to Contact an Accident & Injury Lawyer
Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting and driving. If you have been injured in a car accident in the Chicago area – or any accident – as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact us immediately. You have legal rights. Nationally recognized car accident injury lawyer Mario Palermo can help you exercise them. Call (630)684-2332 for a free consultation regarding the best approach to obtaining compensation for your injuries.