Lewis Gainor Associated Press Interview

New interview with Associated Press on Illinois House Bill

by Sami Azhari on March 13, 2012

The Associated Press interviewed me for a story on March 10, 2012 about a bill proposed in Springfield that would make a significant change to the Illinois Vehicle Code. Read the article.

The story teaches a lesson about Illinois criminal law.

House Bill 5099, sponsored by Representative Jerry Costello, D-Smithton, would amend two sections of the vehicle code that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving.

Apparently, the bill’s own sponsor is not aware of the reach of proposed law.

The bill would amend 625 ILCS 5/12-610.1 and 625 ILCS 5/610.2. The first section would be changed to ban using cell phones, even with an earpiece, within 500 feet of an accident.

The second section, 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2, would be changed to prohibit taking, sending, or receiving pictures or video with a cell phone any time while operating a motor vehicle.

The House passed the bill 62-38, and it is now in the Senate.

The law is problematic because it would ban taking a photo or video at an intersection to document the commission of a crime, accident, or civil rights violation.

But more importantly, this is apparently not the intent of the lawmaker.

Illinois has seen this problem before, when the legislature created Section 10 probation under the Illinois Cannabis Control Act (720 ILCS 550/1 et seq). This special probation allows a felony offender to get out of the case without a conviction and also with the ability to expunge the record. See 720 ILCS 550/10.

But the Illinois House and Senate must have been confused, because oddly, it allows a drug dealer to avoid a conviction and get the record expunged, but an ordinary user cannot do so. That is just plain wrong.

Credit goes to reporter Shannon McFarland who spotted the inconsistency in the law. That is why we have a free press.

But it remains to be seen whether the Senate will recognize the problem.

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