This week, the Illinois House voted to unanimously advance to two pieces of legislation backed by State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) to strengthen the awareness and enforcement of Scott’s Law. Scott’s Law is Illinois’ move over law. The law has drawn great attention in recent months due to sixteen state troopers who have been struck on Illinois highways, three of them fatally.
“This package of legislation represents the good that happens for the people of Illinois when members of the General Assembly work together in a good-faith, bipartisan manner.” said Butler. “These bills will strengthen awareness and enforcement of Scott’s Law by correlating it with our construction zone laws. More information will also be put in front of motorists when they interact with the Secretary of State’s Office and we will be pursing further study to protect our law enforcement and emergency responders.”
Scott’s Law mandates drivers to move over a lane and slow down, if possible, when approaching not only emergency vehicles, but all vehicles on the side of the road with hazard lights enabled. However, the penalty structure of the current law made it logistically difficult to enforce, as well as lacking a robust motorist awareness program. The package of legislation to strengthen the law consists of Senate Bill 1862 and Senate Bill 2038.
SB 1862 includes the following:
- Expands the protection classifications;
- Increases the minimum fine to $250 for a first violation and to $750 for a second or subsequent violation, up to a maximum of $10,000;
- Adds a $250 assessment fee for any violation to be deposited into a new dedicated fund to produce driver education materials, called the Scott’s Law Fund;
- Increases the criminal penalty to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail if the violation results in damage to another vehicle, or a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to one to three years in jail if the violation results in the injury or death of another person;
- Amends the Criminal Code of 2012 to include firefighter and emergency medical service personnel while acting within the scope of their official duties;
- Adds aggravating factors to reckless homicide charges.
The second piece of legislation, SB 2038, requires the Secretary of State to include a written question related to Scott’s Law on the driver’s license exam. It also creates the Move Over Task Force to study the issue of violations of Scott’s Law, the disabled vehicle law, and the stationary authorized emergency vehicle law, with attention to the causes of the violations and ways to protect law enforcement and emergency responders. Members of the Task Force must serve without compensation and must meet no fewer than three times. Additionally, the Task Force must present its report and recommendations to the General Assembly no later than January 1, 2020.
Both measures are expected to receive the same unanimous support in the Senate in the coming days before heading to Gov. Pritzker’s desk to be signed into law.