NJ lawmakers consider allowing phone searches after crashes
Updated On: Jun 12 2013 05:06:01 AM CDT
Your cell phone contains some of your most private information, but if you get into an accident in New Jersey, cops may soon be able to search your phone without a warrant.
It may be illegal, but it's easy to spot distracted drivers talking or texting while driving.
"It's a disaster," said Bob Startzel of Milford, N.J.
"They're distracted and they're driving all over the road," added Jill O'Brien of Bushkill, Pa.
Those drivers also caused more than 1,800 accidents in New Jersey in 2011.
"Swerving around in the road, causing all kinds of bad stuff to happen," said Cheryl Urban of Bethlehem, Pa.
For police, checking to see if a driver was texting after an accident is a time-consuming process. They have to get a search warrant.
But in the Garden State, that could soon change. A state senator wants to give officers the right to search your cell phone -- without a warrant -- immediately after a crash.
The proposal would also affect out-of-state drivers from Pennsylvania passing through New Jersey.
"It's a good idea," said Urban. "Take it away."
But many drivers, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, are already calling the proposal an invasion of privacy.
The ACLU's Alex Shalom told the Star-Ledger: "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 cellphones."
Some motorists agreed.
"To open it up and examine your log is like opening up your glove compartment without your permission," said Startzel.
"That seems a little invasive," added O'Brien. "It just seems like they should have a warrant, or they should have permission to do that."
If this law passes, it would be the first in the nation.
Would it withstand a legal challenge? Legal experts appear divided at this point.
Copyright 2013 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Bank closed; would-be robber leaves empty-handed
SPCA removes 118 animals from shed; charges pending
'Frustrated' teen mom threw infant against wall, police say
Police: Woman makes false rape claim as revenge on ex-boyfriend
Daughter: Joan Rivers' condition 'serious'
Unique creations part of annual Taste of Hamburger Festival
2 Allentown men arrested in connection with stabbing
Nazareth Borough Council taking hard look at police chief
America's cheapest gas is in this town
Man charged with a felony for defrauding The Home Depot store