Distracted by his cellphone, a driver ran a stop sign at Route 20 and Harmony Road in McHenry County in September 2011, slamming into Patricia McNamara's car and killing the 50-year-old Rockford woman.
The driver, Kenneth Englert, who'd had three previous speeding tickets, ended up pleading guilty only to failure to obey a stop sign and was sentenced to court supervision, a $551 fine, and four hours of traffic safety school.
Such slap-on-the-wrist punishments in fatal accidents will no longer be possible. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Monday -- named "Patricia's Law" after McNamara -- that prohibits a court from granting supervision to anyone charged as the result of a fatal accident if that person has had prior court supervision.
The law, sponsored by state Rep. John D'Amico of Chicago and state Sen. Michael Hastings of Matteson, takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.
"Nothing I do can ever bring back my beautiful daughter, Patricia," McNamara's mother, Carol Spears, said during Monday's bill signing. "But I sincerely hope that by passing Patricia's Law, it will help keep unsafe drivers off the road so other families don't have to go through what our family has."
Patricia's Law was one of three traffic-related House bills Quinn signed into law Monday.
Quinn signed "Kelsey's Law," named for a Minooka girl who was seriously hurt after being struck by a 15-year-old driver. That teen then obtained a drivers license three days later.
The law prevents anyone under age 18 from being given a driver's license if he or she has unresolved traffic citations. The law takes effect immediately.
Quinn also approved a law requiring anyone between ages 18 and 24 who did not take driver's education in high school to take an adult driver's education class before receiving a driver's license. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.