Illinois House sends bill increasing fines for Scott’s Law violations to governor

Springfield lawmaker calls it one of most important pieces of legislation this spring

SPRINGFIELD — A bill that would increase penalties for Scott’s Law violations has passed both chambers of the General Assembly.

Democratic Rep. Marcus Evans, of Chicago, said the 2002 “Slow Down or Move Over Law” was passed in memory of the death of Lt. Scott Gillen, a firefighter who was killed by a passing motorist while assisting a traffic accident.

Senate Bill 1862 passed the House unanimously Thursday.

“First responders of Illinois, the message is clear,” Evans said from the House floor. “The Illinois General Assembly wants you to make it home safely.”

Evans’ legislation increases fines and creates a fund to better educate motorists on safe driving procedures when passing first responders, Department of Transportation workers, tow trucks and law enforcement that are stationary on the side of the road.

The fine for a first-time offense would increase from a minimum of $100 to a minimum of $250. A second offense would result in a fine of at least $750. The maximum fine is $10,000. Each offense would also incur a $250 assessment fee.

Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said he received a call from Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, who wanted to discuss ways to strengthen Scott’s Law after Illinois State Troopers Gerald Ellis and Brooke Jones-Story were killed by Scott’s Law violators.

Butler said the idea of the bill is to better correlate it with current construction zone driving laws.

“I personally think this is one of the most important pieces of legislation that we’re going to consider this spring,” Butler said.

Other bills passed by the House on Thursday and advanced to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature include:

Senate Bill 1750, which originates from the Madison County state’s attorney’s office, allows

the addition of an “aggravated” designation to charges and extended terms for sentences for drivers who leave the scene of a fatal accident. The aggravated factor also would apply to drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and drivers using their cellphone at the time of an accident. The bill, carried in the House by Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey, passed unanimously.

Senate Bill 1610,sponsored Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy, of Chicago, requires courts to notify anyone who is not a United States citizen that pleading guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or no contest to a misdemeanor or felony charge could interrupt their status in the country.

If a court fails to notify a defendant that a plea agreement could result in a deportation, denial into the United States or denial of naturalization, the original order can be vacated.  

During a short debate, Cassidy said this was the third time the General Assembly has attempted to pass this bill. The same protection before a defendant enters a plea bargain has been in place for some time.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 84-32.

Senate Bill 1583 would invalidate warrants issued by Cook County after 10 years. The bill, which passed 75-45, applies to people who previously received probation, conditional discharge or supervision of charges related to theft, retail theft or possession of controlled substances.

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, said the Cook County sheriff’s office called the outstanding warrants “a detriment to people’s lives.”

Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said the bill is “totally ignoring” the practice of due process and does nothing good “for anyone anywhere.”

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