SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined with state lawmakers on Tuesday to promote legislation that would increase penalties for drivers who don’t slow or change lanes to avoid vehicles on the side of the road.
The proposed legislation to strengthen Scott’s Law is a reaction to the deaths of two Illinois State Police troopers this year as they performed their duties.
The proposal, filed by Democratic state Rep. Marcus Evans of Chicago, would increase the minimum fine for a first violation of the move-over law to $250 from $100. Subsequent violations would carry a minimum fine of $750. Violators also would be charged an additional $250 fee that would help fund education and enforcement of the law.
Changes in the law proposed by Evans would also increase to a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to one to three years in prison, if the violation results in an injury or death of another person. It also amends the law to include firefighter and emergency medical service personnel while acting within the scope of their official duties.
“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 Evans, the chief House sponsor of the package of legislation. “This legislation will keep our brave public servants safe and save lives.”
Another change in the law would make reckless homicide cases involving violations of Scott’s Law that result in the death of a firefighter or emergency medical services worker a Class 2 felony. A conviction would be punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison, mirroring the penalty for crashes that kill police officers.
“We are going to protect the protectors,” said Republican Rep. John Cabello, a Rockford police detective.
Sixteen state police squad cars have been struck and two troopers have been killed this year in crashes that involved alleged violations of Scott’s Law.
Trooper Brooke Jones-Story, 34, was struck and killed in March by a semitrailer long Route 20 near Route 75 in Freeport as she was inspecting a truck she had pulled to the shoulder of the road. Trooper Christopher Lambert, 34, was killed in January while responding to a traffic crash on Interstate 294 near Northbrook.
Scott’s Law is named for Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen, who was killed in 2000 on the Bishop Ford Freeway by a driver who was later convicted of reckless homicide.