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Bill Could Let NJ Cops Search Cell Phones at Accidents

Article Comments  7  

Jun 10, 2013, 11:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

Legislation proposed in the state of New Jersey would make it legal for police officers to search the phones of accident victims at the scene without a warrant. The bill, proposed by state Sen. James Holzapfel, is meant to help officers determine quickly whether or not cellphone-based distracted driving was behind the cause of the accident. Officers would need to show reasonable grounds, but would not need to obtain permission from a judge. Officers would be allowed to look through call and messaging records, but would have to return the phone after reviewing the data. The bill is being supported by police organizations throughout the Garden State, but the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union believes the bill would violate citizens' rights. "Our state and federal constitutions generally require probable cause before authorizing a search," said Alexander Shalom, the ACLU's state policy counsel, "particularly when it comes to areas that contain highly personal information such as cell phones." It is against the law to use handheld devices while driving in New Jersey.

NJ.com »




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Jun 10, 2013, 6:00 PM


Just goes to show how far Republicans are lost. Especially Republicans in the NE. Republicans are supposed to be about limited government, not expanding it.

Jun 10, 2013, 12:06 PM

How about No ?

This is a good idea in principal, not in practice, and police WILL take this too far.

You want to search a phone, a piece of personal property, accident or not, get a damn warrant. Police will begin to use this as an excuse, or a "Smoke screen" to attempt to search individuals phones whenver they feel like it. Believe me, it will happen.

Accident or not, get a warrant, and let DUE PROCESS take its course. In either situation, if you are guilty, you will be found as such. How about trying to do so in a way that doesnt totally infringe on freedoms?
I had a friend who got into a head on collision and the other person involved was killed. They had to get a court order for both my friend and the deceased acc holder's wireless acc to verify that there was no usage at the time of the accident. In the...

Jun 10, 2013, 3:57 PM


The use of a phone does not prove that a person caused the accident. The police should have to first show which driver was at fault based on standard accident investigation, and then they can get a warrant to prove that the guilty party has some enhanced criminal liability due to willful distraction or whatever they might call it.

Looking at phone records before concluding a proper investigation is not legally justified and could bias the investigation.
I agree, investigate then get a warrent. BTW that guy is my State Senator.
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