Springfield – Gas prices throughout the state are set to jump today as the new motor fuel goes into effect. The state is doubling its gas tax from 19 cents to 38 cents.
Illinois residents under 21 won’t be able to buy tobacco products as Illinois joins Virginia in becoming the 7th and 8th “Tobacco 21” states. Cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes are all included as the state raises the age limit from 18 to 21. Previously communities in Illinois were given the choice to become Tobacco 21 communities. The price of cigarettes will also be going up. The $1.98-per-pack cigarette tax is being raised by $1. The last increase was in 2012.
Drivers caught handling their cellphones will now face much harsher penalties. Instead of just a warning ticket, those caught texting while driving will be issued a moving violation that will go on their driving record. If you manage to rack up three moving violations in a year, you could have your license suspended. Fines are being introduced as well. Drivers will pay a fine of $75 for a first offense, $100 for the second, $125 for the third and $150 for any future offenses. There are some notable exceptions to the rule, such as on-duty police officers using their devices for official business and drivers using their phones to call in an emergency situation.