First-time offenders of the new Illinois law will face a $75 fine.

First-time offenders of the new Illinois law will face a $75 fine.

A new Illinois state law banning motorists from using handheld cell phones while driving goes into effect Jan. 1. 

Because the ban is a "primary" law, law enforcement officers can ticket a driver for the offense without any other traffic violation taking place. Violators face a $75 fine for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $125 for a third offense and $150 for subsequent offenses. 

The state already has a primary law in effect banning texting while driving.

After Jan. 1, drivers will still be able to talk on the phone if they use hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth.

The law includes an exemption for 911 emergency calls.

In addition, another new Illinois law taking effect Jan. 1 will increase the speed limit from 65 to 70 miles per hour on rural highways and interstates. But this law allows Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will counties to opt-out by adopting an ordinance that sets a lower maximum speed limit. As a result, these counties are empowered to make adjustments based on their own local needs.

The new speed limit law also includes a safety provision, which lowers the limit by five mph at which drivers may be charged with excessive speeding. Currently, the threshold for penalties is 31 mph over the limit. The new law lowers that threshold to 26 mph over the limit.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet