Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×
Cellphones Privacy Transportation Your Rights Online

Proposed NJ Law Allows Cops To Search Phones At Crash Scenes 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-they-could-just-ask-the-NSA dept.
New submitter WML MUNSON sends this quote from NJ.com: "License, registration and cell phone, please. Police officers across New Jersey could be saying that to motorists at the scenes of car crashes if new legislation introduced in the state Senate becomes law. The measure would allow cops — without a warrant — to thumb through a cell phone to determine if a driver was talking or texting when an accident occurred. It requires officers to have 'reasonable grounds' to believe the law was broken. There were 1,840 handheld cell phone-related crashes in New Jersey in 2011, resulting in 807 injuries and six deaths, according to the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. 'Think about it: The chances of the cop witnessing the accident are slim to none,' said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. James Holzapfel (R-Ocean), who has worked as a county and municipal prosecutor. '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?'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Proposed NJ Law Allows Cops To Search Phones At Crash Scenes

Comments Filter:
  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:41PM (#43977391) Journal

    Then he’s got to do what? Subpoena the service to see if the phone was actively used or not?

    Yes. Yes he does.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:41PM (#43977401)

    So what do they do with my locked and encrypted device?

    I surely cannot be compelled to remember the password after being in an accident. The trauma could easily explain why I can't remember.

  • The point... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frozentier (1542099) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:44PM (#43977443)
    The point that there's almost no chance the cop saw the violation is exactly why they should NOT be able to go through the device. What "probable cause" could they POSSIBLY have to think the phone caused the accident if the they didn't witness the person actually using it?
  • Not very usefull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:50PM (#43977537)

    Unless you can accurately identify exactly what time the wreck happened, there is no way to tell if someone was texting when the crash happened. They sent a text a minute or 2 ago? "Officer, I sent that while stopped at a red light", or "I was in a store, I sent that text before I drove off in my car". If you get a text right after the crash, better not read it, as the police could assume that you were reading the text when you wrecked.

    Also:

    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?'"

    Yes, that is what he should do. You know, actual police work. What exactly constitutes "reasonable grounds" to search the phone? The phone is laying in the car? The person has the phone in their hand? Ever pass a wreck on the side of the road? People always have their phones out to call for a wrecker, or their insurance, or their family. Unless the person flat out says they were looking at their phone, I cannot think of any type of evidence that would provide "reasonable grounds" to suspect phone use.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @03:53PM (#43977561)

    They'll just get the logs from the carrier by subpoena which is what they should be doing in the first place. Unless you were the only person in the car, they will also have to prove that you used the phone while driving.

    The law is totally worthless and up for abuse. First they would need to establish an accurate time when the accident took place. I'm sure an accurate time will be recorded while they wait the 10 minutes for the police to arrive. Better not use the phone after the accident, they may think that the call or text happened just prior to the accident and it would be up to you to prove otherwise (e.g. "I usually call may insurance agent AFTER an auto accident").

    Yet another case of the 4th amendment being torn to shreds: DNA and now possible call records all without a warrant!

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Erbo (384) <obreerbo@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:01PM (#43977637) Homepage Journal
    Right in one.

    AMENDMENT IV. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:03PM (#43977675) Homepage

    All those anti-gun people should start realizing that if you want a gun-free society, you should start with disarming police officers [cbslocal.com] first because they seem to be at least as large a threat as civilians... and in my opinion, more of a threat since they seem to have a much more 'entitled' sense of firearm use.

    And if you agree we can't disarm the police, why should the remaining population be rendered helpless against the police and others? Sorry, but I just can't get past the natural right to self-defense and self-preservation.

    Anyway... off-topic right? But when I hear "NJ Cop" this story comes to mind. As for searching phones at the scene? Sorry. The best they should be able to do is request the phone number of their device and let them subpoena the phone company for activity on the phone "on or about the time of the accident." Should be perfectly acceptable and will yield far more accurate reporting.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:14PM (#43977803)

    Or maybe they could submit a request to the NSA.

    Not really necessary. TFA:

    It requires officers to have 'reasonable grounds' to believe the law was broken.

    Officer A: "Hey Lou, you see that cell phone?"
    Officer B: "Yeah man, I do."
    Officer A: "And the car's wrecked, right?"
    Officer B: "Sure is, Lou."
    Officer A: "Well there you have it. Reasonable grounds. Cell phone in plain site at the scene of an accident. No different than finding a beer bottle in the back seat and 'reasonably' concluding he could have been drunk..."
    Officer B: "Sounds like a plan. Hey, you know we can't ordinarily go into glove boxes without a warrant, but I think I might have heard something vibrating in there!"
    Officer A: "Could be a cell phone. Better open it up and look."
    Officer B: "It sure could man... it sure could... hey, isn't it so much easier not having to ask anyone before we do whatever the hell we feel like these days?"
    Officer A: "Sure is! Checks and balances, audits, constitutional freedoms... they were just slowing us down all these years."

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Arker (91948) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:18PM (#43977845) Homepage

    This is exactly the kind of idiocy that I was thinking of.

    "We had an incident in town where everyone who saw the wreck was pointing at one person as being at fault, but the guy who got hit was drunk. Guess who got cuffs?"

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:26PM (#43977941)

    Doesn't always matter entirely. If the victim of a car accident was breaking the law, but driving fine, he could still be in trouble. We had an incident in town where everyone who saw the wreck was pointing at one person as being at fault, but the guy who got hit was drunk. Guess who got cuffs?

    There is a good chance that the correct person at fault was noted on the accident report. Regardless of the cause of the accident, the drunk was still breaking the law and needed to be arrested.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @04:54PM (#43978375) Homepage Journal
    Err....don't most people lock their phones with a code? Nothing here says you have to give the cop the fucking number to unlock the phone if he asks for it.

    He can look at mine all here wants, but he needs a warrant for me to even THINK about unlocking it for him.

    I also disabled notices from showing to the lock screen, so he's not going to see anyone texting me or calls or notices for things either unless I were to unlock it for him/her.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kwbauer (1677400) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:07PM (#43978543)

    Somebody ran into me while I had a phone on my belt and after everything stopped moving I pull my phone out to let people know I'll be a bit late is probable cause that I am at fault.?!? Serious cognitive issues there houghi.

The end of labor is to gain leisure.

Working...