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updated: 1/1/2014 2:32 PM

Illinois' new laws: No indoor tanning if under 18, cellphone rules

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  • Tony Borcia

      Tony Borcia

 
 

Many state laws that take effect today were enacted months ago, and Illinoisans recovering from weeks of holiday celebrating might have forgotten about them entirely.

But that won't be an excuse when authorities get you for talking on your cellphone in the car or underage tanning at a salon, so here's a reminder of some laws suburban lawmakers pushed that take effect today.

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Tanning

Starting today, it's illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use an indoor tanning bed. Until now, Illinois allowed minors between ages 14 and 17 to use indoor tanning beds with their parents' permission.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont fought off suggestions government shouldn't be involved in such a decision and said preventing skin cancer is more important.

"When science and health care experts proved indoor tanning is a known carcinogen shown to increase the chance of melanoma by 75 percent for people under 35, I felt an obligation to sponsor this legislation," Radogno said when Gov. Pat Quinn signed the proposal into law.

Driving

Talking on a cellphone behind the wheel without a hands-free device is now illegal in Illinois and carries a maximum $75 fine for a first offense.

Texting while driving and talking on a handheld phone while in school and construction zones was already illegal. Police have sometimes had a hard time enforcing the texting ban because it can be hard to catch drivers in the act. It might be easier for them to catch people holding up a phone to talk.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jim Oberweis' effort to raise the rural interstate speed limit to 70 mph takes effect today. The law largely won't affect roads in the suburbs, something about which Oberweis has disagreed with Quinn's administration.

Boating

After the death of her nephew, Tony Borcia, in a boating accident, state Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield won approval for legislation that could strip the driver's license away from boaters who cause a serious accident while under the influence of alcohol.

Borcia, of Libertyville, was killed when he was struck by Bartlett boater David Hatyina, who was later found to have alcohol and cocaine in his system.

Voting

This year, 17-year-olds will be allowed to vote in the March 18 primary, provided they will turn 18 by the November election.

The proposal was inspired by Stevenson High School teacher Andrew Conneen, who pushed for the change. Conneen argued that a voter who is going to choose a candidate in the general election should get a say in who is nominated in the primary.

State Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills and Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan moved the proposal through the General Assembly.

Pet owning

A new law from state Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge now allows new pet owners to take an animal back to the store where it was purchased if it had health problems that weren't disclosed.

Known as the pet "lemon law," the new rules would allow owners to recover the cost of veterinary bills as well.

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