From the Desk of Senator Brian W. Stewart: “State Police ask motorists to be aware as school begins”

As students across Illinois head back to school, the Illinois State Police are reminding the public to be aware of school buses, crosswalks, and children walking or riding their bikes to school.

Back to school is a good time for motorists to brush up on school zone traffic laws, and to avoid distracted driving.  In school zones, the speed limit is 20 miles per hour from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on school days when children are present.

Pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk, and when a school bus is stopped with its lights activated and stop sign extended, drivers must stop their vehicle before reaching the bus or they could face a $150 fine and a three-month driver’s license suspension.

Drivers are also reminded that under a new law that took effect on July 1, Illinois now has stiffer penalties regarding the use of hand-held devices behind the wheel.  First-time incidents of driving while operating a handheld mobile device now count as a moving violation, and a driver using a hand-held device while a car is in drive could face a $75 fine.

New laws help assault victims and fund research

Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican lawmakers has been recently signed into law, including measures to provide sexual assault victims with more transparency on the status of rape kit processing and to authorize special license plate decals to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer treatment and research.

A new law providing survivors of sexual assault more transparency during the processing of their rape kits was signed into law on Aug. 16.  Resulting from work by the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, the new law requires the Illinois State Police to establish a statewide sexual assault evidence electronic tracking system.  The new system must be operational no later than one year after becoming law.

The new tracking system addresses concerns that Illinois lacked a uniform system across law enforcement agencies to track sexual assault evidence.  Under the new law, survivors will be able to access real-time updates about the status of rape kits providing vital transparency to the process of investigating these serious crimes.  Senate Bill 1411/PA 101-0377 passed the Senate unanimously.

Illinois motorists will have the opportunity to support pediatric cancer research thanks to a newly signed law that allows the Illinois Department of Human Services to issue a decal for pediatric cancer awareness. Senate Bill 946/PA 101-0372 was introduced in memory of Johnny Wade of Jerseyville who passed away from cancer at the age of 8.

Funds from the sale of the decals will go to the University of Illinois’ Cancer Center for pediatric cancer research.  The decals will have an original issuance fee of $25 with $10 directed to the Pediatric Cancer Awareness Fund and $15 to the Secretary of State Special License Plate Fund.  The renewal fee will be $25 with $23 directed to the Pediatric Cancer Awareness Fund and $2 to the Secretary of State Special License Plate Fund.

Brian Stewart

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