Lawmakers are working to determine if the state’s new speed limit increase will apply to highways around the Chicago metro area. (Getty)
The newly-signed law increasing Illinois’ speed limit has hit a speed bump after some lawmakers say the governor misinterpreted where the law will actually apply.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law upping the Illinois speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph on Monday. In a statement, Quinn said the limit would increase for “rural four-lane highways:”
“This limited five miles-per-hour increase will bring Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors and the majority of states across America, while preventing an increase in excessive speeding,” Governor Quinn said. “I encourage all motorists to continue to respect our traffic laws, avoid distractions and exercise common sense behind the wheel to protect the safety of themselves and others.”
While Quinn repeatedly noted the “rural” aspect of the bill, Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, told the Sun-Times “the governor’s press release misstated the facts.” According to Oberweis, the bill’s intent was to apply to all Illinois highways, including the Chicago metro area and congested collar counties.
Quinn’s office said the law allows Chicago-area counties — Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair and Will — to opt out by adopting an ordinance that sets a lower maximum speed limit.
Officials for the affected counties expressed confusion over Quinn’s interpretation, noting their municipalities have never had the power to determine speed limits.
“The county doesn’t have jurisdiction over the tollway and IDOT roads,” said Johnna Kelly, a spokeswoman for the DuPage County Board.
Oberweis and other lawmaker said they will work to make the law clearer and will push for a “clarifying amendment” if necessary.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, also lowers the threshold at which drivers may be charged with excessive speeding from 31 mph to 26 mph.