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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 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.


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