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N.J. Bill Would Allow Police Cell Phone Searches After Accidents

June 11, 2013  | 

Screenshot via CBS New York.
Screenshot via CBS New York.
A state bill in New Jersey would allow police officers to search the cell phones of drivers at accident scenes to determine if they were talking or texting before the crash.

State Sen. James Holzapfel, a Republican and former prosecutor, introduced the bill allowing the warrantless search if officers have "reasonable grounds" to believe the law was broken.

"Think about it: The chances of the cop witnessing the accident are slim to none," Holzapfel told the Star-Ledger. "He’s dispatched, and by the time he gets there — unless they’re unconscious and the phone is in their hands, or some passenger says they were on the phone — then he’s got to do what? Subpoena the service to see if the phone was actively used or not?"

The bill has drawn fire from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which has called it problematic and "susceptible to a constitutional challenge" as violating a driver's Fourth Amendment privacy rights.

Tags: Fourth Amendment, Cell Phones, Text Messaging, Traffic Accidents, ACLU Activism


Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Boston @ 6/11/2013 4:13 PM

What! You mean your not telling your children that the black box installed in all the cars by the auto maufacturers can pick up the signal from your cell phone and record date, time and type phone in use while the vehicle is moving. C'mon man!

NJmotorcop @ 6/12/2013 5:24 PM

Aside from the obvious Constitutional issues, how many cops will know enough about each of the hundreds of phones on the market to be able to do such a search? FYI - Talking isn't illegal here (yet), only texting is. If he really wants to solve the problem he should make the service providers disable texting on phones that are not stationary. This would require only a few changes to the service provider's computer program and would prevent the collision in the first place instead of assigning blame after the damage is already done. I don't care about the inconvenience to passengers in the car or on a bus, its a negligible price to pay.

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