Change In Cell Phone Violations
The Chicago city council is moving towards making a change in how tickets for using your cell phone while driving are issued.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Transportation Committee within the city council has approved a measure that would change this violation, and the new texting while driving violation from a moving violation to a ticket violation. Meaning it would be more like a parking ticket or red light camera violation than a speeding ticket.
The main difference is that you don’t lose your drivers license as bond and you don’t go before a more formal hearing in front of a judge. Instead, you can request for an administrative hearing, again like a parking ticket.
My guess is that the city would then push to enforce these cell phone violations much more aggressively to bring more revenue into the city’s coffers and at a faster pace.
By Fran Spielman
Chicago motorists caught yakking on cell phones while driving — and committing no other violation — will soon be able to hang onto their driver’s licenses and avoid the Traffic Court headache.
On Wednesday, a City Council committee traded the sledge hammer for a felt hammer, in hopes of increasing fines and reducing driver aggravation.
Every month, as many as 1,200 Chicago motorists get cell phone tickets, half of them while committing no other offense. The number of tickets has remained constant since the ordinance was approved in 2005.
“It’s just a friendlier way to deal with people who get these tickets,” said Traffic Committee Chairman Pat O’Connor (40th).
Deputy Corporation Counsel Nilda Soler said the city and motorists will both benefit from the change.
Motorists get to keep their driving privileges, stay out of Traffic Court and avoid court costs. The city gets higher fines.
“Single [cell phone] tickets are treated very loosely by Traffic Court judges. It’s not a pre-payable offense. People have to show up in court. They’re saddled with about $110 of court fees, then the court does not treat it seriously in terms of fines. They get a minimum fine of $20 even though the ordinance stipulates $75,” Soler said.
“It’s gonna be treated more seriously as a single cell phone violation by sending it to Administrative Hearings. The city will get a higher fine and taxpayers will end up paying less overall.”
Bob Evans, commander of the Chicago Police Department’s Traffic Section, embraced the change in hopes it will “modify behavior,” as he put it.
“Cell phones are common. People don’t realize the danger they present. One way of pointing that out is to separate that violation from running a red light. We have more control. It’s not gonna be bunched with other citations,” he said.
Soler acknowledged that an incident last year involving Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) might have been the impetus for the change.
Tunney got a cell phone ticket and was forced to hand over his license, only to have a police officer hand-deliver the license to the alderman’s ward office.
“All the sudden, their driving privileges are withdrawn–when it’s a solo violation. The mayor wanted it to be treated less onerously,” she said.