It is hard to debate the merits of the new Illinois law that bans texting while driving. Sure we all have done it, but it is hard to argue that it is not dangerous. Certainly texting distracts drivers to the point of creating a real danger on the road for all of us.
However, does the new Illinois law also give police officers new discretion to justify traffic stops that lead to DUI or drug arrests?
The law states as follows: “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to compose, send, or read an electronic message.” 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2(b).
“Reading an electronic message” is pretty broad language. Does that include looking at a phone to see a phone number of a person calling? Does it include looking up a phone number to dial even when using a handsfree device? Could a police officer’s testimony that he saw a driver looking down and that the driver had a hand held device in the car be enough for a traffic stop?
I forsee DUI and drug arrests being made with this new law being used as the reason to conduct the traffic stop. Does this new Illinois law give police officers too much discretion to stop drivers?