Bill Could Let NJ Cops Search Cell Phones at Accidents
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.
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May 26, 2020
A federal judge in Seattle has ruled that the FBI violated a defendant's Fourth Amendment rights when it collected evidence by powering on the defendant's smartphone and photographing a notification displayed on the lock screen. The judge ruled that the FBI's actions amounted to a search, even though they made no attempt to unlock the phone.
How about No ?
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?
Looking at phone records before concluding a proper investigation is not legally justified and could bias the investigation.