A ticket for disobedience to a signal indicating the approach of a train is based on the Illinois statute 625 ILCS 5/11-1201. The law provides that a motorist is not always required to stop at railroad tracks, but must always exercise due care.
There are five conditions that require a driver to stop before railroad tracks:
- there is a clearly visible electric or mechanical signal warning that a train is approaching
- the crossing gate is lowered
- a train is approaching while sounding its horn and it is close enough to be an immediate hazard
- a train, while not blowing its horn, is plainly visible and constitutes an immediate hazard
- or the train is approaching so closely that an immediate hazard is created.
If any of the above are present, then the driver must stop at least 15 feet prior to the crossing.
Driving a vehicle through, around, or under any crossing gate is illegal. If this occurs, however, an arresting officer is likely to give the operator more than just a ticket. There is likely going to be an arrest and criminal charges.
A first offense of failure to stop at train tracks is a petty offense, meaning it is punishable by fine only. The fine is $250. The court may impose 25 hours of community service, and this is a matter of discretion for the judge. Thus an egregious violation may result in 25 hours community service.
A second ticket for disobeying a railroad signal has a minimum $500 fine. But the most important aspect of this offense is that a second violation will cause the Secretary of State to suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for 6 months.