SPRINGFIELD — Legislation that would raise the speed limit on interstate highways in most sections of downstate Illinois to 70 mph advanced through the House Transportation Committee Wednesday, 8-0.
The bill, SB 2356, now moves to the full House for its consideration. It already passed the Senate, 41-6, in April.
The measure would allow a 70 mph limit — now 65 mph — on any interstate highways outside of Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry or Will counties. It also would permit officials in Madison and St. Clair counties, near St. Louis, to set a lower interstate speed limit.
The Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Transportation have objected to the higher speed limit, saying that it could lead to more traffic casualties.
Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Red Bud, said 34 states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher, and that traffic safety studies of the higher limits in Louisiana and Michigan found that "there was no significant increase in crashes."
Also Wednesday, the transportation committee approved two bills that had been sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.
One, an amended version of SB 1817, says that a motorist convicted for the first time of the offense of driving without insurance may not be required to pay higher automobile insurance premiums for three years. The legislation grew out of the case of a Douglas County woman who had to pay the higher costs after her insurance company neglected to notify her that her insurance coverage had lapsed.
The other bill, SB 1735, says drivers who causes serious injury or the death of another person while driving on a suspended or revoked license can be charged with a Class 4 felony, which can result in as much as three years in prison.
"Currently the strongest penalty for driving on a suspended or revoked license is a Class A misdemeanor," said Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur. "When a driver's recklessness and disregard for the law results in serious injury or death it should not be treated as a minor offense."