Archive for New Laws


Many of us will remember the days when we could not record a phone conversation without informing the person being recorded, that we were recording them, and we were required to periodically remind the speaker that the recording continued. Some answering machines were sold with a “record” button that repeated a “beep” every few seconds to act as a reminder that the conversation was being recorded.

The State of Illinois, and many other states had such a law. Illinois had that law until March of 2014 when the Illinois Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. The Court found that where there was no legitimate privacy interest in a spoken word (such as in a phone conversation), that to criminalize recording that speech – was unconstitutional, as was the law criminalizing it. So, yes, according to that Illinois Supreme Court decision, you have the right to record a phone conversation you are having with someone without telling that person, and do so without being in jeopardy of violating Illinois criminal law.

That Illinois Supreme Court decision has decriminalized a party to a phone call, recording that phone conversation in this state – but be careful! There may be other laws that make such a recording dangerous: such as the law in the state where the subject being recorded is speaking. Federal law will still be subject to the “one-party” consent rule, meaning that wiretapping of private conversations is illegal. Secret recordings (where only one party is aware of the recording) may not be criminally illegal, but they might serve as the basis of a civil suit for invasion of privacy.

And in an area similar to this subject, it still remains illegal to videotape someone where they have an expectation of privacy, such as in tanning rooms, motel rooms, changing rooms, or locker rooms.


Illinois Sign and Drive Law

The media has been impressed with the new Illinois law known as “Sign and Drive.” The law is touted as beneficial because it allows you to just sign your name instead of surrendering your driver’s license after a traffic citation in this state.

Obviously, the vast majority of tickets written by Illinois law enforcement officers are speeding tickets. The average speeding ticket requires you to post cash bond at the time you are ticketed, or to give up your license to the law officer.

Years ago I learned that after the officer takes your license, it is sent to the local municipality, or usually to the local courthouse. The ticket and the license are stapled together, and a file is created to keep the documents accessible. The next time you are stopped for a moving violation, the officer will see those tiny holes in your license and know that you have been ticketed since your license was renewed. At that point, if he hasn’t already, the officer will run a check to see if you have any warrants, and can determine if you have committed traffic violations in the past. Many people believe that those holes in the license have resulted in people who maybe otherwise would not have been ticketed, to be the loser in situations where the officer might use his discretion and let you leave without a ticket.

Few people realize that even if you surrender your license after a traffic violation, you can reacquire the license by visiting the circuit clerk who holds the license, if you post a cash bond.

So back to the original question: just what does this new law mean? If you commit a petty offense while driving (tail light out, speeding just a little) the officer will let you keep your license – which as the statute intends, will let you use it for identification purposes. In the past we had to use a carbon copy of the ticket as an identification, and few of those copies were legible.

If you miss your court date, your license will be suspended. If you go to trial and are found not guilty, if your charges are dismissed, or if you pay your fine timely, you keep your license (and it will have no holes from being stapled).

If you commit a serious traffic offense (DWLS, speeding too far over the limit, DUI, etc) you will still be required to surrender your license to the police officer. This new law only applies to petty offenses, which means those for which you cannot go to jail.



1) DON’T USE YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING – See my previous article about this law on my blog. The essence of the law is that you cannot have a hand on a cellphone while driving. You can use a hands free phone, or a speaker phone, but do not hold a phone while driving. And as before, there are greater penalties for breaking this law in school or construction zones.

2) CONCEALED CARRY BECOMES LEGAL – This doesn’t mean that starting January 1, that you can carry a concealed firearm; it means that beginning on that date you can apply for a permit. Contact the Illinois State Police, or see their website for details.

3) TANNING BEDS – If you are under 18 years of age, you can no longer legally use commercial tanning beds.

4) SPEED LIMIT GOES FROM 65 T0 70 – On interstate highways, or if so designated by the Department of Transportation, 4 lane roads with a separation between the lanes,. But beware that larger municipalities with such roads in their jurisdiction can leave the speed limit at 65mph.

5) CIGARETTE BUTS ARE LIKE ANY OTHER LITTER – You can’t throw them out your car window and you can’t flick them into the gutter while walking down the road or you are risking a $1,500 fine.

6) BREEDERS CAN’T SELL SICK DOGS AND CATS – New law holds private breeders to some standards that apply to pet shop operators. Breeders must disclose certain known serious illnesses of animals they sell, within a certain period of time, or pay veterinary costs, or accept return of the animal.




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