As of January 1, 2016, a total of 237 new laws hit the books thanks to the combined efforts of Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner. The new laws address a number of subjects that have made headlines in the past year like use of force by police, synthetic drugs, and medical marijuana.
Many different interests can be seen in the diversity of these more than 200 news laws that run the gamut from designating the pumpkin pie as the state’s official pie and banning the sale of powdered alcohol and caffeine.
Some other notable changes include a $5 increase in all traffic fines to help offset the costs of equipment and training programs for law enforcement and the ability of nursing home residents to set up surveillance equipment in their rooms to monitor their daily care and treatment.
While the new laws may seem like a potpourri of sorts, the ones addressing crime and law enforcement specifically emphasize accountability within the criminal justice system.
New Law Enforcement Laws
Not all police departments within the state are required to use body cameras. However, for those that do, the new laws address when those cameras must be turned on and under what limited circumstances cameras can be switched off.
In general, officers will be required to keep their body cameras on when conducting “law enforcement activities.” Cameras can be turned off if, say, an officer was speaking to a confidential informant or if a victim specifically requests a body camera be shut off.
An officer who intentionally turns off a body camera outside of permissible reasons may be subject to disciplinary actions. The body camera recordings could potentially be used to investigate incidents where police discharge a firearm or are accused of using excessive force.
To offset the costs of departments who choose to use body cameras, one of the new 2016 laws raises fines $5 for traffic citations and criminal offenses. This rise in fees will also help pay for officer training programs that will address weapons usage and use of force.
Illinois DUI Repeat-Offenders
Law enforcement agencies aren’t the only ones with increased accountability under the new laws. Repeat drunk drivers will feel lasting effects of their continued choice to drive under the influence thanks to an addition to Illinois’s DUI laws.
Now, individuals convicted of a fourth DUI will have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for their rest of their lives. This prevents them from operating a vehicle before submitting to a breath test to detect the presence of alcohol.
Responsible Pet Ownership
Pet owners can now face misdemeanor charges if they leave their cat or dog outside in extreme weather, including too hot or cold conditions, for prolonged periods of time. These charges can result in a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail.
Also new to the books in 2016 is a law that punishes offenders with a $250 fine and no less than 100 hours of community service if they abuse an animal in the presence of a child.
Noteworthy 2016 Illinois Laws
Although there seems to be an emphasis on accountability for those who enforce laws and those who break them, there are also a number of new-year laws that aim to assist and protect Illinois residents:
- A new “Silver Alert” will help locate missing adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will create a website that specifically helps residents set up a small business in the state
- A statewide ban on “conversion therapy” for underage LGBT residents
- Opioid prescribed medications will now have new caps on them with a numeric locking device
While these laws are just a sampling of the 237 that came into effect on January 1st, 2016, they illustrate the state’s progress in correcting concerns involving serious issues like use of force by law enforcement, but they certainly don’t stop there. For the elderly, animals, and drivers across the state, the news laws serve to protect residents and hold individuals accountable for their actions.