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New Illinois texting while driving violations begin today

CHICAGO — Motorists caught using cellphones while driving will face harsher penalties under a new Illinois law taking effect Monday.

Instead of just a warning ticket, those caught texting will be issued a moving violation that will go on their driving record. Those convicted of three moving violations in a year could have their license suspended.

Violators will also face fines: $75 for a first offense, $100 for the second, $125 for the third and $150 for future offenses.

The exemptions include a law enforcement officer performing official duties, a driver reporting an emergency or a motorist using hands-free mode.

Illinois initially outlawed texting while driving in 2010, but officials say more restrictions were needed.

The Chicago Tribune reports that last year Illinois State Police issued 15,150 citations for distracted driving.

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