Beginning Jan. 1, Illinois’ speed limit will be in line with most of the rest of the country, under a new law sponsored by state Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove.
Signed Aug. 19 by Gov. Pat Quinn, Senate Bill 2356 increases the maximum speed limit to 70 mph on all interstates and toll highways. The legislation was passed by an 85-30 vote of the House of Representatives on May 22 and by a 41-6-1 vote of the Senate.
“This new law shows what can be accomplished when lawmakers work together for the good of our state. Senate Bill 2356 was sponsored by lawmakers from both political parties who represent all regions of our state,” Oberweis said. “It also updates our law to reflect the reality of current driving speeds in Illinois and other states.”
Senate Bill 2356 is also sponsored by state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, the Senate Transportation Committee Chairman, and 28 other senators; and state Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Red Bud, and state Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, and 40 other House members.
Oberweis said the interstates were designed for a higher rate of speed, and currently, there are 34 states with speed limits of 70 mph or higher. All of Illinois’ neighboring states, except Wisconsin, have speed limits of 70 mph. Fifteen states have speed limits of 75 mph and one state has a speed limit of 85 mph.
At the request of the Illinois State Police, Senate Bill 2356 provides public safety enhancements in the form of a lowered threshold upon which the penalty for speeding is increased from a petty offense to a misdemeanor. Speeding in excess of 26 miles per hour but less than 35 mph (currently 31-40 mph) will be a Class B misdemeanor. Speeding in excess of 35 mph (currently 40 mph) will be a Class A misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 2356 also allows Cook County, the collar counties, Madison County and St. Clair County to opt out of the higher speed limit via ordinance. The new law will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.