New Illinois Driving Laws

by Howard Ankin

Illinois drivers can rest a little easier after Governor Quinn signed two new laws on Monday August 5th 2013. The first being “Kelsey’s Law” that targets drivers under the legal driving age and the second being “Patricia’s Law” that targets drivers who had been on court supervision.

Kelsey’s Lawwas named after Kelsey Little, who was struck in 2011 by the passenger-side mirror of a red truck as she and several friends walked along the side of a Grundy County road in Minooka IL after getting soft serve ice cream. The crash split Kelsey Little’s skull open and broke all of the bones in her face. The driver of the truck was 15 years old at the time and was driving on just a learner’s permit. The driver did not stop when the accident happened, but because there was an eyewitness that went after the 15 year old he was forced to return to the scene.  The irony was that after Kelsey Little was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Chicago and as she lay in the Intensive care Unit, the teen driver of the red truck was walking into a Secretary of State driver facility. Just three days after hitting a 13-year girl with his side view mirror, he got a drivers license.

Because the Grundy County State’s Attorney notified the state about the charges against the unlicensed driver, two months after the accident and after the teen got his license.

The loophole was that the state can only deny a license before it is issued or after a court ruling. The new law changes that loophole so that drivers’ new drivers can’t get a license if they have any outstanding tickets.

The other that was put in place was Patricia’s Lawand it named after Patricia McNamara after a driver on his cell phone ran a stop sign in McHenry County in September of 2011 and slammed into Patricia’s car and killing her.  The absurdity is that the driver, who’d had three previous speeding tickets, ended up pleading guilty only to failure to obey a stop sign and was sentenced to court supervision, a $551 fine, and four hours of traffic safety school.

No longer will such slap-on-the-wrist punishments in fatal accidents will be possible in the state of Illinois. Because of “Patricia’s Law” named after McNamara, the law prohibits a court from granting supervision to anyone charged as the result of a fatal accident if that person has had prior court supervision.

As Representative D’Amico said “These new laws are important steps toward protecting the lives of all citizens on our roadways and holding those responsible for serious traffic incidents accountable for their actions.” If you or a loved one is in an accident contact my office for a fee consultation about your legal rights.

Initial Licensing Phase — Drivers Age 16-17

  • Parent/legal guardian must certify that a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, has been completed.
  • Parent/legal guardian must accompany teen to provide written consent to obtain a driver’s license, OR complete and notarize an Affidavit/Consent for Minor to Drive form.
  • Must have completed a state-approved driver education course.
  • Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).
  • Must maintain a conviction-free driving record for six months prior to turning 18 before moving to the Full Licensing Phase. A traffic conviction during the Initial Licensing Phase may extend restrictions beyond age 18.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • For the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the passenger(s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.


  • To obtain court supervision for a traffic violation, a driver must appear in court with a parent/legal guardian and also must attend traffic safety school. Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • A moving violation conviction before age 18 generates a Secretary of State warning letter to the parent and teenager.
  • A moving violation conviction that occurs within the first year of licensing will result in a six-month extension of the passenger limitation, which allows only one unrelated passenger under age 20.
  • Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.
  • Suspended drivers must attend a remedial education course, may be retested and must pay a $70 reinstatement fee.

Full Licensing Phase – Drivers 18-20

  • No age-related restrictions apply except in cases where a driver fails to move from the Initial Licensing Phase to the Full Licensing Phase.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.


  • Limit one court supervision for serious driving offenses.
  • Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.
  • Suspended drivers are required to pay a $70 reinstatement fee.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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