Notable New Laws:
Recreational cannabis sales begin
Illinois has joined 10 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing the purchase and use of recreational cannabis.
Illinois residents ages 21 and older can buy and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate from a licensed dispensary. Out-of-state residents will only be able to purchase up to 15 grams of cannabis or 2.5 grams of concentrate. Furthermore, medical marijuana cardholders will be allowed to grow up to five plants.
Although sales began January 1, the number of locations at which consumers are able to purchase cannabis products are limited for several months. That’s because the state is currently only approving recreational licenses for existing medical cannabis dispensaries. The state will begin to award licenses for new business owners later in the year.
So far, 37 medical dispensaries have been approved to sell recreational cannabis. However, the new law allows local municipalities to deny the sale of recreational cannabis within their jurisdiction. Therefore, depending on local ordinance, not all approved medical dispensaries will be allowed to sell cannabis for recreational use.
As a reminder, public consumption and driving under the influence of cannabis is still illegal.
Strengthening Scott’s Law
2019 will be a year the Illinois State Police never forget. With three tragic deaths and numerous other incidents causing injuries, 2019 broke records early in the year for the number of accidents involving our State Troopers along Illinois roadways.
The drastic increase prompted the Illinois State Police to ramp up patrols to enforce Scott’s Law, more commonly known as the “move over law,” requiring drivers to reduce speed and switch lanes when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.
As of November 3, 5,860 tickets had been issued for Scott’s Law violations. During the same period in 2018, 738 citations were given.
The General Assembly and the Governor also took the tragic incidents of 2019 seriously and passed several measures into law. Beginning January 1:
- The minimum fine for violating Scott's Law increased from $100 to $250 for the first violation and $750 for the second violation.
- Those who violate Scott’s Law and cause an injury or death will be charged with a Class 4 felony.
- The Scott's Law Fund was created to educate motorists on the importance of Scott's Law.
- The Secretary of State is required to include at least one question about Scott’s Law on the written driving test.
Increased traffic fines
Illinois motorists may want to think twice about disobeying traffic laws this year. Drivers can now expect to pay more for passing a stopped school bus and speeding through a construction zone.
House Bill 1873/PA 101-0055 increases the fine for passing a stopped school bus that has its stop arm displayed from $150 to $300 for the first offense and from $500 to $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense. Similarly, Senate Bill 1496/PA 101-0172 increases the fine from $10,000 to $25,000 for failing to reduce speed when approaching a construction zone.
New rules of the road
There are now some changes regarding what is not allowed on Illinois' roadways.
It is now illegal for vehicles to have tinted or smoked lights. Law enforcement officials say these lights often make it difficult to see the vehicle.
Also, Senate Bill 86/PA 101-0297 adds to the current ban on cell phone use while driving by prohibiting drivers from operating a vehicle while also watching or streaming video on a device.