Signing "Jeff's Law," Illinois Cracks Down on Work/School Zone Recklessness

Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich on Monday signed "Jeff’s Law," also known as Senate Bill 363, making it easier to convict speeding or impaired drivers who kill people in work or school zones. The bill is in response to the death of Jeff Heath, 58, a five-year Illinois Department of Transportation employee killed on April 26, 2006, while directing traffic in a construction zone. Heath was struck and killed by a speeding vehicle; he was survived by a wife, two children and six grandchildren.

"I know most Illinois drivers respect the hard work of roadway workers and the vulnerability of our children by slowing down in construction and school zones," Blagojevich said. "Unfortunately, there are a few drivers out there who don't seem to understand just how dangerous reckless or drunk driving can be. If you kill a kid or construction worker because you are drunk or reckless, you should face the full extent of the law--this bill will help ensure that happens."

SB 363, sponsored by State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) and State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville), allows the judge or jury to presume that a driver was acting recklessly if he or she was under the influence or driving with excessive speed and killed a construction worker or child in a safety zone. Currently, drivers who speed through construction zones face a minimum $375 speeding ticket, thanks to a bill Blagojevich signed into law in 2004. "Jeff's Law" becomes effective June 1, 2008.

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