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Illinois House OKs cellphone ban

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Posted: Saturday, March 2, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 7:04 am, Sat Mar 2, 2013.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Drivers would not be allowed to use their cellphones while on the road under a measure the Illinois House endorsed Friday.

The measure would force drivers to use hands-free devices or a speakerphone feature for calls while motoring. A 64-46 vote sent the legislation to the Senate.

Such a law could prevent accidents and fatalities by keeping drivers focused on the road, supporters said.

"A hand-held cellphone is a huge distraction while driving a car," said Rep. John D'Amico, a Chicago Democrat.

D'Amico said 76 Illinois communities -- including Chicago -- already ban chatting and driving.

Police would be able to ticket drivers holding a cellphone under the proposed legislation, which makes an exception for motorists during an emergency.

Opponents said the bill is unfair to people with hearing problems and those who can't afford high-tech gadgets such as ear pieces or telecommunications systems built into automobiles.

"Low-income individuals in the state are going to have a hard time, particularly people who are unemployed, because this is not cheap technology," said Rep. Jim Durkin, a Republican from Western Springs.

Others argued the bill represents undue government intervention into private practices. Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, said such a law could lead to other regulations restricting motorists.

"What about shaving, eating McDonalds, having children in the back seat?" Reboletti said.

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