I’ve had this asked more than once, so I felt it best to put the matter to rest. I’ve seen many police vehicles going through red lights, speeding, making u-turns…. and not displaying flashing lights or a siren. What is the “statutory” requirement for “emergency vehicles” when it comes to obeying traffic laws? Well…..
(625 ILCS 5/11-205) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-205)
Sec. 11-205. Public officers and employees to obey Act-Exceptions.
(a) The provisions of this Chapter applicable to the drivers of vehicles upon the highways shall apply to the drivers of all vehicles owned or operated by the United States, this State or any county, city, town, district or any other political subdivision of the State, except as provided in this Section and subject to such specific exceptions as set forth in this Chapter with reference to authorized emergency vehicles.
(b) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle, when responding to an emergency call or when in the pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law or when responding to but not upon returning from a fire alarm, may exercise the privileges set forth in this Section, but subject to the conditions herein stated.
(c) The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle may:
1. Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this Chapter;
2. Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be required and necessary for safe operation;
3. Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property;
4. Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.
(d) The exceptions herein granted to an authorized emergency vehicle, other than a police vehicle, shall apply only when the vehicle is making use of either an audible signal when in motion or visual signals meeting the requirements of Section 12-215 of this Act.
(e) The foregoing provisions do not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty of driving with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor do such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others.
(f) Unless specifically made applicable, the provisions of this Chapter, except those contained in Section 11-204 and Articles IV and V of this Chapter, shall not apply to persons, motor vehicles and equipment while actually engaged in work upon a highway but shall apply to such persons and vehicles when traveling to or from such work.
(Source: P.A. 89-710, eff. 2-14-97; 90-257, eff. 7-30-97.)
So, what is an “authorized emergency vehicle”?
(625 ILCS 5/1-105) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 1-105)
Sec. 1-105. Authorized emergency vehicle. Emergency vehicles of municipal departments or public service corporations as are designated or authorized by proper local authorities; police vehicles; vehicles of the fire department; vehicles of a HazMat or technical rescue team authorized by a county board under Section 5-1127 of the Counties Code; ambulances; vehicles of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency; vehicles of the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal; mine rescue and explosives emergency response vehicles of the Department of Natural Resources; vehicles of the Illinois Department of Public Health; and vehicles of a municipal or county emergency services and disaster agency, as defined by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act.
(Source: P.A. 96-214, eff. 8-10-09; 96-986, eff. 1-1-11; 96-1190, eff. 7-22-10; 97-149, eff. 7-14-11; 97-333, eff. 7-12-11.)