Prohibition against texting, using hand-held mobile telephone in commercial vehicle

by Lewis Gainor on December 29, 2012

Prohibition Against Texting CDL Illinois

Illinois drivers have a few more laws to pay attention to on the road in 2013. Legislators in Springfield passed several important statutes amending the vehicle code.

One very important change to the vehicle code is a ban on texting for all CDL operators. In addition, commercial drivers cannot use a cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle, unless the device is hands-free.

Under the Uniform Commercial Driver’s License Act (UCDLA), a violation will constitute a serious traffic violation. A commercial driver who has two or more serious traffic violations in a 3-year period will have his CDL cancelled for at least 60 days.

The prohibition against texting and cell phones applies whether the vehicle is moving or temporarily stationary.

The statute banning texting, 625 ILCS 5/6-526, provides the following:

(a) A driver may not engage in texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle…

(c) For the purpose of this Section, when a person is operating a commercial motor vehicle, driving means operating a commercial motor vehicle on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

The section that bans the use of cell phones for making calls, 625 ILCS 5/6-527, has the same restrictions:

(a) A driver may not use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle…

(c) For the purpose of this Section, driving means operating a commercial motor vehicle on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

The only exception to the ban is when texting or making a call is necessary to communicate with law enforcement, such as reporting an emergency.

But a hands-free device is not a violation of the statute. While the definition of texting is straight forward, the hands-free exception to the ban on cell phones is not so intuitive.

There are three situations which constitute a violation of the ban on cell phones:

(1) using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication;

(2) dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button; or

(3) reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt that is installed in accordance with 49 CFR 393.93 and adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.

625 ILCS 5/6-500(33).

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