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10 Laws You Should Know If You're in Illinois

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Illinois is more than just home to Chicago, it's practically the center of culture for the Midwest. But you won't be able to fully appreciate that spirit if you don't know the laws of the Prairie State.

Northwestern students know better than to hit the road without obeying Illinois' DUI laws, and we think even Al Capone knew how his estate might be split up.

Don't visit or set up roots in the Land of Lincoln without learning more about these 10 laws:

  1. DUI threshold. The presumptive limit for intoxication in Illinois is a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, but there is zero tolerance for drivers who are under 21.
  2. Cell phone use while driving. Operating a phone while driving (including texting) is illegal without a hands-free device.
  3. Divorce requirements. Illinois divorce isn't as easy as Illinois marriage; for starters, you need to be a resident of the state for at least 90 days.
  4. Marital property division. Illinois is not a community property state. That means unless there's something like a valid prenup in place, divorcing spouses will generally divide marital property according to equity, or fairness.
  5. Comparative fault for injuries. Illinois has a modified contributory negligence standard for recovering injury damages. If you are more than half (50 percent) at fault for your injuries, you may not recover anything.
  6. Statutes of limitation. Irritated over something nasty written about you online? You may need to hurry, because you only have one year to file a libel complaint in Illinois. The statutes of limitations differ for other types of civil and criminal matters.
  7. Will requirements. Better hope you have a formal will drafted, because Illinois does not recognize oral or handwritten wills.
  8. School prayer. Public schools in Illinois will allow a "brief period of silence" during which children may pray or reflect -- silently.
  9. Marijuana laws. Illinois allows qualified patients to use medical marijuana as part of a pilot program, but recreational use and possession is still illegal.
  10. Age of majority and emancipation. The age of majority is 18 in Illinois, although you may be emancipated at age 16 with some legal help.

Illinois can be your safe (new) home if you remember to learn its laws. You can read more about them in FindLaw's section on Illinois law.

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