State’s crackdown with littering, cellphone laws not necessary

By Danny Cozzi

Of the many Illinois laws that have been put into effect starting in 2014 — and the 40,000 state laws throughout the country — there are at least two students need to know.​

As of Jan. 1, using a cellphone while driving in Illinois without a hands-free setting warrants a fine starting at $75. Along with restricted phone use, littering with those pesky cigarette butts now carries a rather hefty fine.

Both issues have extremely easy solutions. When using your phone in the car, just don’t use it.

“I agree with [the law] because a lot of people do get distracted … while driving,” said Chianthony Lee, sophomore business management major.

Lee has texted while driving, but said he saves longer conversations for when he’s not behind the wheel.

“Motorists still can chat and drive, but only if they use hands-free technology such as a Bluetooth device, earpiece, headset or speakerphone,” according to a Dec. 28 Chicago Tribune article.

Earpieces look silly and speakerphones tend to distort calls. Play it safe and put your phone away.

NIU also has its fair share of smokers, as I’m annoyingly reminded every day when bouncing between classes in DuSable and Reavis halls.

Illinois’ new law on cigarette butts now considers them litter, which means the police can fine you for lazily dropping your spent cigarettes in the streets. According to the Huffington Post, violators can be penalized up to $1,500 upon a first offense.

“I think it’s a good idea for the environment, but they definitely need to put cigarette disposal places in front of everywhere,” said freshman illustration major Allison Mecaskey.

Arguing the case for the environment is popular, but I don’t think the law will be effective on that basis. Compared to other things, like pollution from factory farming, cigarette butts are hardly the scourge of the environment. If anything will prevent littering, it’s the threat of the fine.

“I was thinking about quitting after reading [about the ban],” said freshman illustration major Keagan Virlee.

Illinois doesn’t need to make cigarette butts an issue. I agree littering is trashy behavior. I’ll quietly judge you for being lazy and inconsiderate, but I’d never suggest police waste their time writing tickets for it.

Do you know what would help the most with littering? You or your smoker-friends deciding not to litter. It’s that simple.