New Jersey Bill Would Allow Cops to Search Your Cell Phone Messages, Calls After Crash
June 12, 2013 4:30 PM
comment(s) - last by
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 (
) 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.
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
, "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."
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
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
NJ State Senate
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
I have a lot of sympathy for this bill
6/12/2013 9:39:31 PM
I just see far too many drivers on their cell phone every day.
Their behavior on the roads is honestly not that far from a drunk driver. There are really two kinds -- the ones who drive scary aggressive with one hand, and the ones who drive really slow, because like many drunk drivers, they know they're impaired and think driving slowly makes up for it. So they're slow to start at lights, and slow to stop -- often drifting through red lights. At any decision point (turns, forks, entrances, exits), they take much much longer than drivers who are paying attention.
Both kinds are dangerous.
"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
ACLU Sues Government for Tracking Citizens; Boehner Calls NSA Leaker a "Traitor"
June 11, 2013, 8:46 PM
Federal Judge Grants Reprieve to Suspect Facing Forced Hard Drive Decryption
June 5, 2013, 6:18 PM
AT&T: More Adults Text and Drive Than Teens, Employers May be to Blame
April 1, 2013, 8:02 AM
UPDATED: U.S. Police Begin Warrantless Phone Data Grabs, ACLU Fights Back
April 21, 2011, 2:20 PM
Study Predicts Self-Driving Vehicles Could Rake in Billions
March 6, 2015, 8:34 AM
Dual-Motor Tesla Model S P85D's "Insane Mode" Shocks Passengers
January 28, 2015, 11:18 PM
2016 Cadillac CTS-V Packs 640 hp Punch with 200 mph Reach
January 23, 2015, 3:25 PM
BMW Testing Tech to Allow Users to Auto-Park, Summon Cars Via Smartwatch
December 16, 2014, 9:30 AM
Lamborghini Offers Up $6,000 Leather-Bound Android Smartphone
December 12, 2014, 3:12 PM
Quick Note: GM Teases Next Generation Chevrolet Volt
November 20, 2014, 3:26 PM
Most Popular Articles
Windows 10 Build 10056 -- What's New in the Latest Leak
April 13, 2015, 10:38 PM
TSMC Hypes Its Upcoming 10 nm Process, Amid Struggles to Hit Volume at 16 nm
April 10, 2015, 7:57 PM
Sharp Unveils World's First "4K" Phone Display at Mind-Boggling 806 PPI
April 13, 2015, 11:24 AM
Tech's Biggest Loser on Tax Day: eBay Pays Nearly 99 Percent Tax Rate
April 15, 2015, 3:28 PM
In California Hippies, Religious Right Find Common Enemy in Vaccine Science
April 9, 2015, 4:42 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information