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Illinois wants tougher penalties for drivers who don’t move over for emergency vehicles

Illinois legislators push for tougher penalties for drivers who don’t move over for emergency and stopped vehicles

IL Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and legislators announced a new bill that would increase penalties and fines for drivers violating Scott's Law state’s move over law.
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IL Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and legislators announced a new bill that would increase penalties and fines for drivers violating Scott's Law state’s move over law.

Fines and penalities for violating Scott’s Law would be increased under a proposal announced on Tuesday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Acting Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and handful of legislators announced legislation on Tuesday meant to enhance enforcement of Scott’s Law.

Fines for a first offense of violating the state’s move over law would be increased to between $250 to $10,000. A second violation would lead to a fine between $750 and $10,000.

In addition to the fines, there would be a $250 assessment for any violation of Scott’s Law.

A person who causes damage to another vehicle while violating Scott’s Law would face a class A misdemeanor. Causing death or injury makes it a class 4 felony. A person would face a class 2 felony charge if the Scott’s Law violation led to the death or injury of an emergency responder.

Currently, violators face a fine of $100 to $10,000.

There also is legislation to create a taskforce to study move over law violations and why they happen.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, said the fine structure under the proposal is similar to a work zone violation.

“This bill is in response to the alarming rise in the number of incidents which are placing the lives our police at greater risk,” Hoffman said. “It is our responsibility to make sure we are taking every possible step to prevent these situations from reoccurring in the future.”

Scott’s Law, commonly referred to as the move over law, requires motorists to slow down when they see emergency lights along a roadway and, if possible, to move over into another lane of traffic.

Enforcement of the law has been top of mind this year as three Illinois state troopers — Brooke Jones-Story, Jerry Ellis and Chris Lambert — have been killed on highways as they were working.

This year, there have been 16 state troopers hit. Kelly said the number of crashes is higher than all of 2018.

More than 2,000 citations for violations of the move over law have been issued this year, which is six times as many at the same point in 2018, and twice as many for all of last year, Kelly said.

Money from Scott’s Law fines would go into a fund to produce materials educate drivers about the law.

“Enforcement and education go hand-in-hand,” Kelly said.

He added extra efforts to enforce Scott’s Law have not hampered enforcement of other traffic rules, adding when someone is violating Scott’s Law, they likely are committing another traffic violation.

Kelly said he doesn’t think efforts to enforce the move over law would impose any other additional duties on law enforcement.


“What this will do is strengthen the position of this law in the middle of all these other potential offenses that may exist,” Kelly said.


State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, who also is a police detective, said legislators decided they needed to act to try to fix this issue.

“This legislation is one way we’re working to protect the protectors,” Cabello said. “Too many first responders have paid the ultimate price, and we are honoring their legacy by preventing even more tragic losses among our state’s heroes.”

Scott’s Law was named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

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Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referendums.


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