New Year – New Laws

Happy New Year and welcome to 2019!  The start of every year brings all sorts of changes to the State of Illinois.  A new governor, new attorney general and new members of Congress in the Chicago suburbs. Also new to the state are several laws that took effect at midnight on January 1, 2019.  In fact, the Chicago Tribune noted that more than 250 new laws are now in effect and on the book in the state.  These laws effect everything from transportation and traffic tickets, to public safety initiatives involving car seats or even gun ownership.  Included in this post are of some of the new laws that may affect your everyday life.

Car Seats: The State of Illinois added new rules for the placement of car seats in vehicles.  Under 625 ILCS 25/4, all children must ride in a rear facing car seat until the child is either two years old, weighs 40 pounds or is 40 inches tall.  The failure to follow this rule can result in a $75 fine for the first offense and a $200 fine for a subsequent offense.  Currently, almost all infant car seats are rear facing as numerous studies have shown that these types of seats are much more effective at protecting a child in the event of a car accident.  However, many of these seats are only designed for children who are less than one year old.

Anytime you purchase a new car seat, it is always a good idea to make sure the seat installation is checked by a certified professional.  In Chicago, most police stations have a trained officer on staff who can check the car seat and answer any questions that you have about installation.  You can find the nearest station offering this service by dialing 311.

Red Light Camera Tickets:In Chicago, the effectiveness and fairness of red-light cameras has been an issue discussed on this blog.  With the enactment of 625 ILCS 5/6-303, drivers operating a vehicle on a suspended license due to the failure to pay a red-light ticket will no longer be subject to a misdemeanor penalty.  Instead, the violation is now considered a “petty-offense.”  Violators will be issued a $50 fine with no additional penalties.  Similar changes were also enacted that lower the penalty to a petty offense for driving on a license that was suspended due to unpaid parking tickets or unpaid child support.

Firearm Waiting Periods: The Illinois Legislature updated rules surrounding the purchasing of firearms.  Under 720 ILCS 5/24-3, individuals wishing to purchase a rifle must now wait 72 hours between purchasing and obtaining the firearm.  The previous waiting period was only 24 hours.  This wait time is commonly referred to as a “cooling off period.” Tri States Public Radio spoke with the bill’s sponsor, Representative Johnathan Carroll of Northbrook, Illinois who noted that the cooling off period was enacted in the wake of several recent mass shootings.  Representative Carroll explained that the purpose of this period is to give gun purchasers time to think about why they may be purchasing the firearm and any catastrophic results that could occur.  He noted that “data shows us that actually, that kind of waiting period does cut down on those types of shootings.”

Perhaps, in recognition of the increase in mass shootings, another new law, 105 ILCS 128/20, requires all schools to conduct a law-enforcement led active shooter drill within the first 90 days of the start of school.

Reimbursement for Using Your Phone or Computer at Work: If your job requires you to use your personal computer or phone at work, 820 ILCS 115/9.5, requires your employer to reimburse you for the expenses.  To be eligible for the reimbursement, the employee must submit proof of the expense along with any supporting documentation within 30 days of incurring the expense.  If supporting documentation does not exists, the employee can submit a signed statement verifying the expenses.  Employers are not responsible for any damage or loss of the device that may occur through normal use throughout the work day.

With over 250 new laws now in effect, it is important to check and see how these new laws may impact your everyday life. Additional information regarding many of these laws can be found through reporting by WTTW, the Chicago Tribune, and Chicago’s ABC7.