NPR Story
6:01 am
Thu January 2, 2014

'Siri, Tell Me About The Hands-Free Law'

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 11:53 am

Jan. 1 brings a new Illinois law that limits talking on the phone while driving. It's often been referred to as "cell phone ban." But it's actually a bit more nuanced.

Brian Mackey asks Siri to help him figure out Illinois' new hands-free cell phone law.

The law starts out by saying you cannot drive while using an electronic device such as a phone or laptop. But it's not that cut-and-dry. For example, you can place a call if it only requires pressing one button.

SIRI: *ding*

MACKEY: Siri, can you make a call for me?

SIRI: "With whom would you like to speak?"

MACKEY: How about Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond?

"Hands must be on the wheel, and there will be no more talking on the phone, or using or holding of a cell phone," Bond says.

And that's the key point: using a headset or a speaker phone seems to be legal. But if you're caught holding a phone, the fines start at $75.

Illinois law already bans texting while driving. But the law does not apply to GPS devices, CB radios, or portable music players.

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