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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Court Rejects Challenge to Ordinance Ban on Texting While Driving

Illinois has a law that prohibits a person from driving while using an electronic device (cell phone, smart phone, etc.). In 2005, the City of Chicago adopted an ordinance prohibiting similar conduct - i.e., using cell phones while operating a vehicle.  

After Simic was issued a ticket by a Chicago police officer for texting while driving, she challenged Chicago's ordinance in court, claiming it is unconstitutional. In her lawsuit, Simic claimed that the ordinance violated her due process rights and Eight Amendment's excessive fines clause. She sought damages in excess of one million dollars. 

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Simic, finding that she had no standing to challenge the ordinance or seek monetary damages. Simic v. City of Chicago (7th Cir. 2017). The Court rejected any argument that a driver has a constitutional right to drive while using a cell phone, since that conduct is prohibited by state law. The Court also rejected her claim for damages, finding that she incurred no injury since her ticket was set aside in the administrative adjudication process. Finally, the court upheld the ordinance against a preemption claim, finding that Chicago had the authority to enact the ordinance and impose the fines pursuant to its home rule powers.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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