Illinois Legislation Would Strengthen 'Move Over' Law

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and state lawmakers unveiled two bills on May 13 that would strengthen the state's "move over" law and also would create a Move Over Task Force to study the issue of violations of that law.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and state lawmakers unveiled two bills on May 13 that would strengthen the state's "move over" law (known as Scott's Law) and also would create a Move Over Task Force to study the issue of violations of that law. "Scott's Law says that drivers approaching a vehicle with their hazard lights on must slow down and move over. The legislation we're announcing today enhances penalties for those who don't obey the law and raises awareness for those who don't even know Scott's Law exists," said Pritzker. "No one's time or convenience is worth more than the lives of our state's heroes."

The officials noted that in 2019, Illinois State Police Troopers Christopher Lambert, Brooke Jones-Story, and Gerald Ellis have been killed in the line of duty when hit by other drivers. The existing law was initially passed in memory of Scott Gillen, a Chicago Fire Department lieutenant who died in December 2000 after being struck by a driver who was speeding through an accident scene.

The first bill, SB 1862, would expand the existing law's protections to include a stationary authorized vehicle with oscillating lights, first responders, IDOT workers, law enforcement officers, and any individual authorized to be on the highway within the scope of their employment or job duties. It would raise the minimum fine to $250 for a first violation of Scott's Law and to $750 for a second or subsequent violation and also add a $250 assessment fee for any violation of Scott's Law to be deposited into a new dedicated fund to produce driver education materials, called the Scott's Law Fund.

The criminal penalty would be increased to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, if a violation results in damage to another vehicle or to a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to one to three years in prison, if violation results in an injury or death of another person.

The second bill, SB 2038, would create the task force to study the issue of violations of Scott's Law, disabled vehicle law, and stationary authorized emergency vehicle law, focusing on the causes of the violations and ways to protect law enforcement and emergency responders. Members of this task force would include the director of Illinois State Police or his/her designee, serving as the chair; the governor of Illinois of his or her designee; the secretary of State or his or her designee; the secretary of Transportation (IDOT) or his or her designee; the director of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority or his or her designee; the president of the Illinois State's Attorneys Association or his or her designee; the president of the Illinois Sheriffs' Association or his or her designee; the president of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police or his or her designee; and the president of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois or his or her designee.

Members of the Task Force would serve without compensation and meet at least three times. The task force would be directed to present its report and recommendations to the General Assembly no later than Jan. 1, 2020.

"Enough is enough. Three first responders have lost their lives while working on our roadways this year, and we're cracking down on reckless drivers to prevent more senseless tragedies," said Rep. Marcus C. Evans, the chief House sponsor of the package of legislation. "This legislation will keep our brave public servants safe and save lives."

"As a former police officer, I know the life-threatening situations facing law enforcement every day, and I'm proud this legislation will protect and serve our brave men and women in uniform," said Sen. Tony Munoz, the chief Senate sponsor of the bills. "We can't afford to lose any more lives, so I implore all drivers to slow down and move over when you see first responders on the roads."

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