Over 200 new laws have taken effect as of January 1. Everything from ‘lemon dogs’ to ‘concealed carry’ has been added to what we can and can’t do.
Illinois will be joining other states in allowing residents to carry concealed weapons. Getting one is not as easy as it sounds, and there are many restrictions, but gun owners can apply for a permit through the Illinois State Police which can take up to 90 days to issue the permit.
The new law that will affect the most people is the one banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Phones controlled by a headset are legal, even though the distraction caused by getting or sending a phone call will still be a distraction, just one that isn’t easily visible to police. Texting and checking emails while driving is still banned, although drivers are allowed to use a GPS device. Violators of the law will be fined $75 for a first offense. Fines of as much as $150 could be issued for repeat offenses as well as facing a moving violation on their driving record. Drivers are still allowed to make calls in an emergency.
Remember when just about every smoker pitched his cigarette butt out the window? The state has made it a serious crime to dispose of cigarette remains that way. The first offense merits a hefty fine, and the third one is a felony.
In 2014 it will be illegal for anyone under 18 to enter a tanning bed.
On the other hand, youths who turn 18 by the November voting day, can vote in the primary elections the preceding spring even though they are only 17 at the time. Seventeen-year-olds can begin registering immediately and must register by February 18 to be able to vote in the March 18 primary. It is estimated that Chicago could gain 30,000 new voters thanks to this law.
Another new Illinois law requires public school districts that are now teaching only abstinence in sex education classes to add birth control methods and sexually transmitted disease information. Districts who opt out of teaching sex education are not affected by the new law.
New pet owners in Illinois will be newly protected by a “lemon law” that allows owners to be refunded the cost of the pet or reimbursed for veterinary costs if a new pet has been purchased without disclosure of any serious illnesses.
The penalty for using social media to organize a ‘flash mob’ has been increased from 3 years to 6 years in prison.