Understanding the Basics of Scott's Law

December 21, 2020

By: Timothy Lloyd, Associate Attorney

Scott’s Law requires drivers to move over when an emergency vehicle has its emergency lights illuminated, or at least reduce speed and proceed with caution. This applies to police cars, fire and ambulance, as well as highway maintenance vehicles.

The statute can be found at 625 ILCS 5/11-907(c). (Illinois State Police, 2020)

This law is intended to help ensure that emergency personnel are safe. It is often a ticket that is difficult to negotiate with the prosecution. The law is called Scott’s law after Chicago Fire Lieutenant Scott Gillen who was hit by a car on December 23, 2000, while dispatched to a collision. (https://www.roselle.il.us/317/Scotts-Law-Explained)

In 2019, three Illinois State Troopers were killed, and twenty-six of their vehicles were struck by drivers. In response, Illinois legislators have increased the punishment. In 2020, the minimum fine for a Scott’s law violation increased from $100 to $250 for a first violation, and to a minimum fine of $750 for a second violation.

If an injury or death occurs, the driver can be charged with a class 4 felony. A class 4 felony is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or one to three years in prison, followed by a term of mandatory supervised release (MSR) of one year. Mandatory supervised release is what we used to refer to as parole.

The impetus behind the increase in the punishment is that in early 2019, 5,860 violations of Scott’s law were charged from January 1, 2019 to November 3, 2019, and during the same period in 2018 only 738 violations were charged.

https://www.wifr.com/content/news/Illinois-stiffens-penalties-for-Scotts-Law-violators-in-2020

If the driver commits a violation of the code while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicating compounds, it is considered an aggravating factor and mandatory minimum suspensions of the driver’s license will be triggered. If the violation of the code results in property damage, the license suspension is between 90 days and one year. If a person is injured as a result of the violation, the suspension is from 180 days to two years. If a person dies as a result of the violation the suspension is a two-year suspension.

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