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New law is meant to determine if you were talking/texting while driving, but represents a gross invasion of privacy

Expect this one to light up the appeals court if it's passed: New Jersey's state senate is considering a bill (No. 2783) that would allow a police officer to seize your cell phone and check your messages and phone calls to see if you were talking or texting when the accident occurred.

Back in 2007, New Jersey became one of the first states to ban texting while driving (P.L. 2007, c.198 [PDF]).  It currently is also working on a bill (No. 69 R1) that would increase the penalties of texting while driving by a couple hundred dollars, plus at three points to a drivers license for every offense after the second one.

But those efforts pale in comparison to the latest effort -- the cell phone seizure act – that grants bold new powers to the police.  Its synopsis unequivocally states:

Permits police officer to confiscate cell phones under certain circumstances; increases penalties for texting while driving.

Jim Hopzafel
Sen. Jim Hopzapfel (R-Ocean) sponsored the seizure bill. [Image Source: Facebook]

The provisions of exactly when an officer can seize your phone are pretty ambiguous.  The bill states a phone may be seized:

[If] the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the operator involved in the accident was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle [prior to the accident.]

State Sen. James Holzapfel (R-Ocean) sponsored the bill.  He tells NJ.com, "Think about it: The chances of the cop witnessing the accident are slim to none."

Local police are already salivating at their new potential powers.  Comments Sgt. Ken Drost, who works in South Brunswick and is president of the Middlesex County Traffic Officers Association, "It’s one of the questions you ask them: ‘Were you on your cell phone at the time of the crash?’ And, of course, they say ‘no.'  Without the phone you really can’t tell."

Texter
Prepare to have your phone seized. [Image Source: Getty Images]

But the possibility of new powers of seizure for police is already drawing the ire of many groups.  

Steve Carrellas, New Jersey representative of the National Motorists Association, says that even with the Orwellian seizure you won't be able to really "tell" if the phone caused the crash.  He remarks, "Here’s the bottom line: If you went all through what the bill is supposedly allowing, you still can’t determine if the person with the phone actually had a distraction that contributed to a crash."

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey suggests its crafting a "constitutional challenge" should the bill be enacted.  Local counsel Alexander Shalom comments, "This bill is problematic because it infringes on the privacy rights of citizens.  Our state and federal constitutions generally require probable cause before authorizing a search, particularly when it comes to areas that contain highly personal information such as cell phones."

A major question that the bill's proponents have not addressed is the question of what happens if you lock your phone.  If you safeguard your phone with a gesture or password, it's unclear whether an officer or court could punish you for failing to unlock.  This is a similar question to the issue of whether police have the right to demand forced decryption of suspects' hard drives.

Sources: NJ State Senate, NJ.com



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RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By shmmy on 6/12/2013 6:28:50 PM , Rating: 1
I am pretty sure Jasons dream job is tech editor for Fox News... :P

I live in NJ about 20 min from NYC, so this hits home for me.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. If some dumb person is driving while talking on the phone\texting and causes an accident. Hell yes I would like the cop to take literally 5 min to go through their phone and prove it. Otherwise its that persons word against mine. Not to mention days\weeks of waiting to get her phone records. Thats more tax dollars wasted, and more time cops spend not doing their primary job.

Case and point. (probably not cell phone related but were not sure since we didnt see they drive at the time of the accident)
Somebody hit my work van a few days ago in Bergen County and a local cop wrote up the report. Nobody was hurt. 1 week for the report to be processed. 1 week! I could not imagine them getting a phone record in under a month if it takes one week for him to file something he wrote up in 5 min.

Its your cell phone, not your underwear draw. They dont search your internet history, pictures, or contacts.

Stop acting like this is some kinda big deal and get over it... Always have to make something from nothing in order to make a story.


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By V-Money on 6/12/2013 6:39:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Hell yes I would like the cop to take literally 5 min to go through their phone and prove it.


...and if someone stole my property and I knew who it was I would love for the cops to enter somebody's house or car to look for it because that would save a lot of time and money without having to get that pesky warrant...

Why are people so quick to give up rights when it doesn't affect them directly. You realize that every time we lose a right it sets precedence to take away more. This one might not affect you but the next one might.

If you want a reasonable way to handle this situation without violating privacy simply make it a bigger crime to lie about whether or not they were on their cell phone. If you tell someone that you are going to get a court order to check their cell phone records and that if they answer dishonestly it will earn them a large fine and time in the slammer they will be a lot more honest about it, or they will be hit with a large fine and time in the slammer.


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By shmmy on 6/12/2013 7:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...and if someone stole my property and I knew who it was I would love for the cops to enter somebody's house or car to look for it because that would save a lot of time and money without having to get that pesky warrant...


That's called a slippery slope sir. Although you think it is similar it has nothing to do with what we are talking about. One thing does not always lead to another just because you pick it out of the air to try to prove your point. :)

quote:
...and if someone stole my property and I knew who it was I would love for the cops to enter somebody's house or car to look for it because that would save a lot of time and money without having to get that pesky warrant...


Driving is not a right. If you do harm to others, or at the least cause property damage due to your illegal activity while driving then it is within justification to check that persons activity during said incident. Just like cops give people breathalyzers if they are suspected of being drunk. Even if the accident is not their fault if they are legally drunk it becomes their fault. Driving while txting is said to be just as bad, or worse then driving while drunk.

quote:
If you want a reasonable way to handle this situation without violating privacy simply make it a bigger crime to lie about whether or not they were on their cell phone. If you tell someone that you are going to get a court order to check their cell phone records and that if they answer dishonestly it will earn them a large fine and time in the slammer they will be a lot more honest about it, or they will be hit with a large fine and time in the slammer.


Its not reasonable thats the whole point of this law. LOL maybe to you since you are not doing the overtime, or paying the bill for it. Getting the persons phone records gives them access to the same amount of personal data that they would get from simply looking at the phone...

You people act like they are going to go all CSI on their stuff and steal photos and other personal info.

Try playing twister once in a while, instead of that game jump to conclusions from the movie Office Space :)


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By Shadowself on 6/12/2013 7:19:08 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
quote:
...and if someone stole my property and I knew who it was I would love for the cops to enter somebody's house or car to look for it because that would save a lot of time and money without having to get that pesky warrant...
That's called a slippery slope sir. Although you think it is similar it has nothing to do with what we are talking about. One thing does not always lead to another just because you pick it out of the air to try to prove your point. :)
So where do you suggest they draw the line?

Can they search to see WHO you were calling? If I'm calling my son and discussing the weather is that OK (as long as it's hands free), but if I'm calling my wife and in a heated argument can they say that I was certainly distracted and try to get me on some grounds of distracted driving?

If, as I describe elsewhere in this thread, I'm using a Bluetooth enabled car and the office check then finds out that I was on the phone, am I now guilty until I can PROVE that I was using the phone hands free? (Something I likely cannot do.)

If my wife and I are both in the care at the time of the accident and my phone, but not my wife's, was in use at the time of the accident, can the officer claim that I was using my phone even if my wife was just answering some robo-calling service? Again, am I guilty until I can PROVE that I wasn't using the phone?

Where do you draw the line?


By BRB29 on 6/12/2013 8:43:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Can they search to see WHO you were calling? If I'm calling my son and discussing the weather is that OK (as long as it's hands free), but if I'm calling my wife and in a heated argument can they say that I was certainly distracted and try to get me on some grounds of distracted driving?

If you are arguing with your wife and became to distracted driving then you are wrong. Just because you had a fallout with your wife does not entitle you to cause harm to other drivers. Do you have to wait until you killed someone to admit that any form of distracted driving is bad?

The line is drawn when you become a potential danger to other drivers.


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By wookie1 on 6/12/2013 6:41:18 PM , Rating: 1
Given the very low percentage of wrecks that is caused by cell phone distraction vs all of the other distractions, this seems like a great deal of extra invasiveness to provide very little additional safety. This won't help stop people from talking to others in the car, drinking coffee or eating breakfast, shaving, daydreaming (#1 cause of distraction accidents), etc.

Second point: "Its your cell phone, not your underwear draw. They dont search your internet history, pictures, or contacts." How do you know? Once they're in your phone, they may decide that there are all sorts of other things they should look for. I imagine that they would scan your contacts to see if you have any association with known criminals/terrorists, check your text messages to see if you're doing anything that raises concern, go through your e-mails, and absolutely check your browsing history! It's just too juicy a target not to go through, since it's already right there for them. Police have already done these sorts of things in other cases. They'll probably need to hang on to your phone for some time to go through it all, hope you don't need it for anything. Thank you for your cooperation, citizen!


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By Creig on 6/12/2013 7:11:20 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Given the very low percentage of wrecks that is caused by cell phone distraction vs all of the other distractions, this seems like a great deal of extra invasiveness to provide very little additional safety.

The National Safety Council estimates that 28 percent of all crashes each year involve cell phone use, resulting in 1.6 million crashes nationally. http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Docume...

Over 1/4 of all crashes each year in the United States involves a cell phone. I don't know about you, but that doesn't qualify as "very low percentage" to me.

PUT DOWN THE DAMNED PHONE AND JUST DRIVE!


By shmmy on 6/12/2013 7:16:41 PM , Rating: 2
Nice! but math does not always work with these people. ;)


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By Solandri on 6/12/2013 11:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a bit skeptical of those estimates. Here are the traffic accident fatality rates by year:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.s._traffic_dea...

There's been a pretty steady decline in fatality rates since 1970. If cell phone use had caused a significant increase in crashes, you'd expect the fatality rate to spike around 2000 when cell phones really took off in popularity.

There isn't one. The drop in rate starts slowing down around 1990 which is a bit suspicious. But there were too few people using cellphones back then for that to have been the cause.
http://www.bmj.com/highwire/filestream/572389/fiel...

If you project a long-term trendline from 1970-1990, the 1990-2010 trend is above that, but the big dip in 2010/2011 puts it back on that trendline. So if cell phones are causing more accidents, it's only because they're replacing other behaviors which were equally as likely to cause an accident.


By BRB29 on 6/13/2013 12:19:30 AM , Rating: 2
That's because the major push in vehicle safety started since the 70s

In 1974, GM offered driver and passenger airbags as optional equipment on large Cadillacs, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles.[40]
In 1979 NHTSA began crash-testing popular cars and publishing the results, to inform consumers and encourage manufacturers to improve the safety of their vehicles. Initially, the US NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) crash tests examined compliance with the occupant-protection provisions of FMVSS 208. Over the subsequent years, this NHTSA program was gradually expanded in scope. In 1997, the European European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) was established to test new vehicles' safety performance and publish the results for vehicle shoppers' information.[41] The NHTSA crash tests are presently operated and published as the U.S. branch of the international NCAP programme.[42]
In 1984 New York State passed the first US law requiring seat belt use in passenger cars. Seat belt laws have since been adopted by all 50 states, except for New Hampshire.[43] and NHTSA estimates increased seat belt use as a result save 10,000 per year in the USA.[44]
In 1986 the central 3rd brake light was mandated in North America with most of the world following with similar standards in automotive lighting.
In 1995 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began frontal offset crash tests.[citation needed]
In 1997 EuroNCAP was founded.
In 2003 the IIHS began conducting side impact crash tests.
In 2004 NHTSA released new tests designed to test the rollover risk of new cars and SUVs. Only the Mazda RX-8 got a 5-star rating.[citation needed]
In 2009 Citroën became the first manufacturer to feature "Snowmotion", an Intelligent Anti Skid system developed in conjunction with Bosch, which gives drivers a level of control in extreme ice or snow conditions similar to a 4x4[45]
In 2009 NHTSA upgraded its roof-crush standard for vehicles weighing 6000 pounds or less. The new standard increased the crush load requirement from 1.5 to 3 times the vehicle's curb weight.[46][47]

Yes cell phones is just one of the problems. During the 90s the cool thing was the have a retarded sound systems with dubs blasting Big Tymers and racing down the street. Now it's smartphones, texting and facebook. While they may replace one bad habit with another, if we don't do anything then it could mean they'll blast music, race, text, and facebook all at the same time. We need to prevent as many idiot drivers as possible. They may not be murderers but if they killed someone by accident then it's still a dead innocent person.

I've seen so many paralyzed or dead people because of drunk drivers. Playing with your phone is almost just as bad. I used to just have to dodge drunk drivers at night. Now I have to dodge people on their phone during the day too.


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By shmmy on 6/12/2013 7:14:30 PM , Rating: 2
You imagine. Exactly... I like to stick with reality. :)

In reality this is simply a law to check if a person of concern was talking, or texting, during the time of an accident. You know, BREAKING THE LAW.


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By Shadowself on 6/12/2013 7:28:15 PM , Rating: 2
Ah yes, to hell with the Fifth Amendment. Require me to hand over my personal property without due process (i.e., getting a warrant) so that I can incriminate myself about breaking the law. Virtually 100% of the time the officer did not see me on the phone. Hell, in a high percentage of the time the person driving the other care didn't see me on the phone either! So just demand that I hand over my cell phone and provide what could appear to be (but might not really be, see my other posts) self incriminating evidence which will be utilized at the officers sole discretion!

Hell, you're not officially, legally at fault for the accident until you either admit that it was your fault or the courts say it was your fault. How is handing over your cell phone so the officer can view your calling/texting history not a forced admission of guilt (assuming you were on a call)?


By BRB29 on 6/13/2013 12:26:07 AM , Rating: 2
I don't agree with this potential law. It's dumb anyways because I can easily delete my text or call history in seconds.

I don't see why they need to do this. If someone is drifting all over the place because they're distracted then just give them a damn ticket for driving while distracted or wreckless driving. They can explain it in court with the judge.

If you hurt someone, then I hope you turn yourself in and be honest. If you did lie, it wouldn't make that much of a difference because that's trivial compared to what you have to deal with. You'll probably still get charged with other things anyways. I'm sure the judge can probably figure out if you're lying or not.


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By Spookster on 6/12/13, Rating: 0
By shmmy on 6/12/2013 7:29:49 PM , Rating: 1
Fox News style, not a tech website...

Articles Jason writes its always "Obama administration" and a negative picture of Obama, even if the "story" is about the DOJ or NSA

I look at other sights if they even post similar story's Obama admin is not said one time. It is the "DOJ did X" or "NSA does y"

I had to stop reading this site around election time...

Its getting old very fast once again Jason.


By Spookster on 6/12/2013 7:26:07 PM , Rating: 1
Jason makes Faux News look real.


By kfonda on 6/12/2013 9:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Driving is a privilege, not a right


While Driving is a privilege, not a right the 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure is a right.

I also live in NJ and I can damn well guarantee you that I will go to jail before I will comply with this law.


RE: More crap articles from Jason Mick
By Stuka on 6/13/2013 2:17:24 AM , Rating: 2
They already came up with all the traffic laws we need decades ago. They wrote a little book about it and made it available at your local DMV. Whether they were texting is irrelevant. There are two dented cars and skid marks, all the info you need is right there. But, for whatever reason, they refuse to increase the penalties for causing an accident. In Arizona it is a worse crime to violate the carpool lane than to ram into the back of another car. Instead, they try to layer on these crime-du-jours. Case in point: You can read a map and crash into someone and it's "failure to control vehicle", a glorified speeding ticket, 2pts; but send a text 30 secs before a hitting someone, and now you can add "texting while driving" to the charges.

Keep in mind, texting does not equal crash. I'm sure there are numerous scenarios where a person could be wrongfully cited as "at fault" just 'cos of a text, when it was the other person who caused it. I bet you most cops are gonna waive the "failure to yield" on Person A, when Person B sent a text 20secs before impact.

What if I pull over to send a text and then someone side swipes me? Is the cop gonna be able to ascertain that I was not in motion when that message was sent, when the other driver swears I pulled in front of him??? Remember the cops have no idea when the crash actually happened. It could be as much as an hour before they get there. Then they have only your word on when it actually happened.

This crap is just retarded.


By BRB29 on 6/13/2013 7:50:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What if I pull over to send a text and then someone side swipes me? Is the cop gonna be able to ascertain that I was not in motion when that message was sent, when the other driver swears I pulled in front of him?


Unless you pull over in a road lane, I don't see why a cop can't tell who hits who. If you did stop in the middle of the street then it's your fault regardless of if you texted or not. However, since rear ending automatically makes that person at fault 99% of the time, you can probably get away with it if you claim you were waiting to turn.


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