New Laws Taking Effect January 1, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Week in Review Logo

Laws taking effect on Jan. 1, 2015

On Jan. 1, 2015, more than 200 new laws will take effect in Illinois touching many areas of state government from education and public safety, to transportation and wildlife.

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll highlight some of the more impactful and controversial measures that will take effect when the new year begins. If you’re interested, you can view a complete list online.

New Transportation Laws

Speed demons may be happy to learn Illinois will be reinstituting “sign and drive” as of Jan. 1. Currently, Illinois is one of only six states that confiscates a driver’s license for a minor traffic offense. As of Jan. 1, law enforcement won’t be allowed to take a driver’s license as bail following a speed stop or other violation.

And drivers in northern Illinois will be interested to learn a measure sponsored by State Senator Jim Oberweis will bring the state’s Toll Highway system in Chicago up to the same 70 mph speed limit as the rest of the state—unless the Toll Highway Authority can prove that speed is unsafe on those roadways. The legislation is a follow-up measure to legislation that took effect in 2014 raising Illinois’ speed limit on interstate highways to 70 mph. 

Marijuana and Epilepsy

Another measure that gained attention during the spring legislative session and will take effect on Jan. 1 extends the state’s medical marijuana program to children who suffer from seizures.  

In 2013, CNN highlighted the story of a little girl in Colorado who, before using medical cannabis oil, suffered up to 300 seizures a week. Since starting treatment, her seizures have essentially stopped. Since the report, a number of states have taken steps to allow minors to use medical cannabis in the form of an oil to treat seizures.

New Technologies Inspire New Laws

Regulation of drones has drawn significant attention from the public, the media—and policy makers. One such law that will take effect in the new year prohibits a law enforcement agency from using a drone owned by a third party to acquire information.

Seeking to make government more accessible and accountable to the public, a measure sponsored by State Senator Michael Connelly requires that a unit of local government or a school district that maintains a website to post an email address that members of the public can use to communicate with elected officials of that unit of local government or school district.

Additionally, as social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have become increasingly popular unfortunately, so has the practice of “cyber bullying.” In what some lawmakers argued is an overreach of a school’s authority, as of Jan. 1 schools will be required to address electronic bullying under certain circumstances, even if the bullying occurred off-campus and was conducted by using private computers, cell phones, etc.