House acts to toughen penalties for violations of “Scott’s Law”

The Illinois House of Representatives voted Thursday to increase criminal penalties for motorists who violate “Scott’s Law”. State Representative John M. Cabello, R-Machesney Park, a Chief-Co-Sponsor of the legislation, reacted to the bill’s passage following the vote.

“Sixteen state troopers have been hit on Illinois highways so far this year, three of them fatally,” Cabello said. “Most of these incidents involved violations of Scott’s Law. We need to do a better job of educating the public about Scott’s Law and require mandatory jail time for offenders when they injure or kill someone.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 1862, would increase criminal penalties for violations of Scott’s Law to:

  • Minimum fine of $250/maximum fine of $10,000 for the first violation (no property damage or injury);
  • Minimum fine of $750/maximum fine of $10,000 for the second or subsequent violation (no property damage or injury);
  • Up to one year in prison and fine up to $2,500 if the violation results in damage to another vehicle;
  • 1-3 years in prison and fine up to $25,000 if the violation results in the injury or death of another person;
  • Provides that a person who commits reckless homicide while violating Scott’s Law shall be sentenced to 3-14 years in prison; or, if the person caused the deaths of two or more people, a term of 6-28 years in prison.

Representative Cabello has been working with the Governor’s Office, House Democrats and Republicans to strengthen criminal penalties for violations of Scott’s Law. He introduced his own bill in April, House Bill 1875 proposing stiff penalty enhancements and mandatory jail time for violations that result in the injury or death of another person. Cabello’s bill formed the basis for much of the bipartisan agreement that came to fruition in Senate Bill 1862.  

The bill also provides for the Illinois State Police (ISP) to use all money in the Scott’s Law Fund to fund the production of materials to educate drivers on approaching stationary authorized emergency vehicles, to hire off-duty State Police for enforcement of Scott’s Law, and any other purposes the ISP deems necessary.

Currently, a violation of Scott’s Law does not include jail time and is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000. If the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the offense, their driving privileges are suspended for 90 days to one year if the violation results in damage to the property of another person; 180 days to 2 years if the violation results in injury to another person; or 2 years if the violation results in the death of another person.

Also known as the “Move Over” law, Scott’s Law requires that when approaching any vehicle equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights stopped along the roadway while the owner or operator of the vehicle is engaged in his or her official duties, a motorist must reduce speed, change lanes if possible, and proceed with due caution.

An authorized emergency vehicle under Scott’s Law, includes ANY vehicle authorized by law to be equipped with oscillating, rotating, or flashing lights, while the owner or operator of the vehicle is engaged in his or her official duties.

In other legislative action today, the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Representative Cabello (SB 1894) to provide that children and stepchildren, in addition to the spouse and parents, of a police officer or firefighter who has died in the line of duty may be issued special license plates. SB 1894 will now go to the Governor for signature.

Representative Cabello serves the 68th District, which includes portions of Rockford, Loves Park, Machesney Park and Cherry Valley.