New Illinois Laws For 2015

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With the new year, a host of new laws recently took effect in the State of Illinois – some with little or no notice.   Some new laws of note include:

  1. Underage Drinking. Parents and guardians can be fined up to $2,000 if they allow those younger than 21 to drink in vehicles, trailers, campers or boats under their ownership or control. Parents and guardians can also be charged with a felony if a death occurs as a result.  This is an expansion of existing state law which imposes similar penalties for allowing underage drinking in the home.
  2. Pregnancy Rights. Employers must provide “reasonable accommodations” for working pregnant women unless it would impose an “undue hardship” on their business. While “reasonable accommodations” are loosely defined, at a minimum it includes limits on manual labor, more frequent bathroom breaks and space to breastfeed. A pregnant woman also cannot be forced to take a leave of absence .  In a similar vein, an employer cannot refuse to hire a qualified pregnant applicant because of a required accommodation.
  3. Speed Limit Increases. The Illinois Toll Highway Authority is authorized to increase the speed limit for urban areas of Illinois Tollways up to 70 miles per hour.
  4. Criminal Background Checks for Job Applicants. Private employers may not check an applicant’s criminal history until the final round of job interviews. State agencies are banned from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on initial job applications.
  5. Medical Marijuana.  The State’s experiment in medical marijuana has been expanded to include children and teenagers who suffer from seizures. While administrative rules implementing this practice are still under review, it appears young patients likely will be required to get written certification from two doctors.
  6. Personal Recognizance Bond for Minor Traffic Citations.  Illinois drivers pulled over for routine traffic violations such as speeding will no longer be required to post their drivers license or a cash bond.  A new law allows Illinois drivers to sign a personal recognizance bond, commonly known as an “I Bond”.  Failure to pay the ticket or appear in court to contest the ticket will result in an automatic suspension of any offender’s drivers license.
  7. An End to Police Ticket Quotas.  Municipal police departments are prohibited from requiring officers to issue a certain number of tickets during a designated time frame. The law also prevents police departments from weighing the number of tickets issued by any officer in evaluating job performance.
  8. Cyberbullying.  Schools are now required to investigate instances of cyberbullying that happen off school grounds or with electronics that are not owned by the school.
  9. Automatic Expungement of Juvenile Arrest Records. Juveniles with arrests for minor offenses who were never charged with a crime will automatically have their record expunged when they turn 18.
  10. Protection of Certain Endangered Species. The gray wolf, American black bear and mountain lion are now added to Illinois’ list of protected species. Land owners cannot kill these animals unless they pose a threat. Wolves already had such protections, but the new law expands the state’s ability to manage all three species.