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Proposed NJ Law Allows Cops To Search Phones At Crash Scenes

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the or-they-could-just-ask-the-NSA dept.

Cellphones 397

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?'"

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397 comments

Yes (5, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | about a year ago | (#43977391)

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

Yes. Yes he does.

Re:Yes (4, Funny)

bobstreo (1320787) | about a year ago | (#43977415)

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

Yes. Yes he does.

Or maybe they could submit a request to the NSA.

Re:Yes (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977733)

No, that might breach national security. All he needs is a broad warrant that covers all the metadata of anyone communicating inside New Jersey, renewed practically automatically every 90 days. These sorts of things are easy and totally legal, I hear.

Re:Yes (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#43977743)

I would tend to agree with you – but let me play the Devil’s Advocate.

Crashing your car is not a crime. Most crashes fall into the fender bender category. In no-fault states they don’t even bother figuring out who cause a multi-car crash.

Driving your car impaired (drunk, texting, whatever) is a crime. Crashing your car while impaired even more so. You pay for everybody’s repair plus jail time.

When a cop shows up to determine cause of the crash, how do they determine if the crash was caused by impaired driving? If a driver is drunk that is semi-obvious. If a person was texting? How then? Subpoena everybody’s phone on the off chance that there might have been texting? (Not sure if that would clear probably cause.). If not, then would the “no texting” law have any real teeth?

Re:Yes (-1, Troll)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43977829)

texting isn't a form of impaired driving.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texting_while_driving#United_States [wikipedia.org]

Nice try at fearmongering though. Perhaps the next time they can just anal probe you... just you.

Re:Yes (4, Informative)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43977873)

but his general comment stands... texting while driving is against the law so getting in a crash while texting should be investigated by the cops, like DUI. or speeding or running a red light.

Re:Yes (2)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#43978035)

Yet I still see police everyday talking on cell phones while driving cruisers and texting while driving cruisers. Explain that, but it's against the law that they uphold.

Re:Yes (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#43978045)

The cop "investigates" by trying to identify people who are actively breaking that law. Cops do not have a general power to do investigation without a court order or at least reasonable cause.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977955)

Did you not read your own link? The Wiki article references numerous studies and experiments that show texting while driving significantly increases the risk of a crash and worsens reaction time. How is that not impaired when compared to baseline?

Impair simply means "weaken or damage." So yes. Driving while texting weakens ones ability to drive at the same time.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977909)

If someone is texting and causes a crash and admits that they caused the crash, then even if they don't admit that they were texting they are effectively punished for texting while driving because they have to answer for any damages. In that situation, it really serves no purpose to have a cop write them a ticket. If wrecking cars and paying for those damages isn't enough to force someone to reconsider whether they should text while driving then adding a ticket won't be enough either.

If someone is texting while driving and causes a wreck and refuses to admit that they are at fault then the fact that they were texting while driving will be investigated during the civil trial and then an adverse judgment will having a higher dollar amount than any traffic ticket. And again, adding a cop writing a ticket to that scenerio doesn't really add anything. Again, the person will be punished for texting and causing a wreck.

I haven't read the NJ anti-texting law, but most are passed with the intention that cops use it to pull over and ticket drivers as they are violating the law. We already have mechanisms in place to punish careless drivers who cause property damage to cars. The law mentioned in TFA really does nothing but add a superfluous privacy invasion.

Re:Yes (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#43977917)

. If a person was texting? How then? Subpoena everybody’s phone on the off chance that there might have been texting? (Not sure if that would clear probably cause.). If not, then would the “no texting” law have any real teeth?

The absence of skid marks, or a very short skid mark before impact, is compelling evidence of impairment. I have been rear-ended, while waiting in the traffic lane for a pedestrian to clear a driveway, by an idiot who hit me like he never even saw me. Never hit the brakes. He was not drunk. He most certainly was "distracted" and I am totally OK with a LEO "asking" for his phone in that case. I am also OK with his report documenting the circumstances and those being used as probably cause for subpoena.

Re:Yes (3, Funny)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#43978071)

The absence of skid marks, or a very short skid mark

Wait so now they are checking our pants?

I thought this was about phones not our under pants.

Re:Yes (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#43978025)

how do they determine if the crash was caused by impaired driving

The same way he determines whether you just committed a murder, or whether you have anti-government sentiments:

He doesnt.

The job of a police officer is not to exhaustively determine that no crime was committed. If he wants to do so, he needs reasonable suspicion and generally a warrant.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977747)

That is exactly what he needs to do, if he has cause to believe the phone was being used, then get a subpoena.

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978065)

Officer C: oooh, sexty!

Re:Yes (1)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#43977427)

Assuming he has a reason to need that information in the first place.

Which seems a huge assumption. What happened to figuring out which car actually caused the accident? Do they no longer teach that in police academies these days?

Re:Yes (1)

cfsops (2922481) | about a year ago | (#43977709)

Whoever was on the phone is the cause of the accident.

[That's sarcasm, btw.]

Re:Yes (4, Interesting)

gnick (1211984) | about a year ago | (#43977759)

What happened to figuring out which car actually caused the accident?

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?

In this case, the person causing the accident may get some leniancy by pointing out that the person was driving illegally and could have avoided the accident had he not been.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about a year ago | (#43977845)

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 (1)

gnick (1211984) | about a year ago | (#43977951)

I didn't say it was right, I just pointed out the way it is. You cause a fender bender, you've got a little bit of trouble to deal with. You get caught drunk behind the wheel, regardless of how you got caught, pose for your mug shot.

Re:Yes (4, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43977479)

And that's only if he has court admissible probable cause to believe that cell phone usage was a factor.

My counter proposal: Sen. James Holzapfel drives to every single crash scene in New Jersey and personally apologies to the people who crashed for trying to introduce such a law and personally ensures their cell phones are dirt free and sparkly, replacing any broken ones.

Re:Yes (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#43978085)

And that's only if he has court admissible probable cause to believe that cell phone usage was a factor.

Admissible probable cause? There was a crash. There was a phone. Done.

Re:Yes (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year ago | (#43977585)

Exactly! Yes they should get subpoenas. Is there some reason why police need to urgently check this at the scene? Worried that a driver would walk away from the crash and ten minutes later be speeding down the road while texting?

He could at least add a terrorist threat angle to this bullshittery.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

Erbo (384) | about a year ago | (#43977637)

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.

Re:Yes (1)

ruin20 (1242396) | about a year ago | (#43977655)

The cell network can't tell if you're preparing a text message, only if you sent one. Actively using a phone is largely dependant on the phone's state, not the networks. Especially with smart phones. I can read comics, play games, watch videos, and if they are stored locally on the phone, the network would be unable to tell you. I'm pretty sure if I wrecked someone elses car that I would kill all the processes on my phone, may initiate a wipe to factory settings.

Re:Yes (2)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#43977739)

So how's the officer to tell if that pending (unsent) message was typed while I was driving, an hour before I got in the car, or while I was standing on the side of the road waiting for police to arrive? Never mind about when I downloaded that cat picture that made me laugh so hard I crashed...

See also: Forcing defendants to turn over their encryption keys & passwords. My phone auto-locks. Please do try to guess the password (not a piddly four-digit pin) 10 times.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977875)

Which is exactly the same information that could be discerned from looking through the device without a warrant. Prove to me that the text being typed was being done at the time of the accident... or the text was being looked at.

In other words, you're saying that this law really doesn't do jack shit beyond what a warrant would prove, could conceivably prove less (depending on the expertise of the officer and how many cell phones they can render a technical opinion about, not to mention allows the officer to just make shit up - I saw it powered on, honest!,) while at the same time weakening the fourth amendment.

Re:Yes (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43977753)

But, but... Due Process is hard! *tearful face*

Re:Yes (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43977975)

If law enforcement is unable to figure out how to follow due process, does anyone expect they're smart enough to figure out any of the smartphone operating systems out there?

"Citizen! Hand me your phone! And then explain to me how to unlock it. Then show me where the text messaging is. Where is the notification section? I have an iphone. What's cyanogenmod? Explain to me the difference between facebook notifications, SMS, google talk, google chat, google voice, e-mail, and twitter. Prove to me that you weren't using any of them! Explain to me automated responses!... actually, no, I'm just going to arrest you if I feel like it, reasons include 'I'm overly sensitive about my intelligence and you made me feel dumb becuase I don't understand technology.' Also being a minority."

Re:Yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977785)

He words it as if it's such a ridiculous proposal. Subpoena the service?? Outrageous!!

Re:Yes (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43977977)

Then heâ(TM)s got to do what? Subpoena the service to see if the phone was actively used or not?

Yes. Yes he does.

According to a recent Federal court decision, indeed he does. He must have probable cause.

OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re: OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#43977461)

Silly human. They can take blood from you if they suspect you are DUI. What makes you think they can't compel you due to "dangerous texting and driving". Think of the children.

Re: OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (5, Informative)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#43977509)

They can take blood from you, if they arrest you, using other probably cause to establish the need to arrest. They cannot take your blood pre-arrest.

Re: OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977647)

In Texas, and I suspect other states, refusal to blow into a breathalyzer is grounds for arrest and then forcible draw of blood. The probable cause for this is that you refused to breathe into a breathalyzer.

Re: OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (2)

MarioMax (907837) | about a year ago | (#43977717)

In Texas, and I suspect other states, refusal to blow into a breathalyzer is grounds for arrest and then forcible draw of blood. The probable cause for this is that you refused to breathe into a breathalyzer.

True in Arizona. Plus refusing to take a sobriety test (they give you a list of options, so you have to refuse all of them) is an automatic 1 year license suspension even if you are not convicted of a DUI. And then they can still arrest you and/or a judge will issue a warrant for your blood.

Re: OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978117)

Part of this is that a driver's license is not considered a right in the US. Thus, states can have requirements for drivers' licenses that include things like your agreement that "Operation of a motor vehicle constitutes consent to any sobriety test required by law". (Which is exactly what's printed on my Florida drivers' license.)

Re: OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977687)

Accident in and of itself can be used as cause for arrest.

Re: OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977645)

The difference is that one can prove that a suspect is willfully resisting a blood test. One cannot prove that a suspect remembers a password.

Re:OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about a year ago | (#43977559)

That's ok. If it's anything like my wife's phone, any idiot could see the finger smudges and retrace the sequence that unlocks it. She's practically worn a grove into the screen.

Re:OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (1)

tiberus (258517) | about a year ago | (#43977631)

Hmmm, wouldn't that be hacking or unauthorized access?!?

Re:OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (1)

Golddess (1361003) | about a year ago | (#43978089)

Maybe, but that's fine. Because when the government does it, it isn't illegal.

Re:OK,here it is good luck with the encryption (5, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#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!

And whats wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977413)

with a subpoena.

The point... (5, Insightful)

frozentier (1542099) | about a year ago | (#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?

Re:The point... (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43977505)

I guess they could ask the other driver if the other guy was on the phone. If they get a yes then they would have probable cause.

Re:The point... (2)

MasseKid (1294554) | about a year ago | (#43977649)

If the other driver was aware enough of the other car to see if he was on the phone or not, there probably isn't an accident in the first place. The reasons that accidents aren't more common is because the second driver avoids the mistake of the first driver. The obvious exceptions to this is getting rear ended at a stop light, however looking behind you, inside the passenger compartment (not just recognizing there is a vehicle there), to see if the guy is on the phone or not, is not exactly a common occurrence right before getting rear ended. So yes, if they have probable cause because in the rare occurrence someone sees the other guy is on the phone, but is unable to avoid the accident, then they should be free to use that probable cause to obtain a warrant.

Re:The point... (2)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#43977853)

If the other driver was aware enough of the other car to see if he was on the phone or not, there probably isn't an accident in the first place.

Not true, I've seen it often. Fortunately laying on the horn has saved my bacon. Usually I'm stopped (stop sign, parking lot, etc.) or on the highway and some idiot is about to drift into my car.

Just the other month some young woman in an Escalade almost plowed into me in a parking lot. I couldn't move my car because there were people in front and behind me.

She was coming at me perpendicularly, looking down at her phone just plowing forward, driving THROUGH the parking spaces like they weren't even there. I had to lay on my horn, and she barely avoided hitting me. She had to jam on the flippin' brakes.

The kicker, she got pissed off at me for being in her way.

Re:The point... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978053)

You know those things cost a MINIMUM of $63,000, right?

And like, for real? You were in HER way, and you should have moved UR car out of HER way when you saw HER coming, young man. That's what a 21st century gentleman would have done.

Remember, despite what people like to say, women are still the weaker, dumber, and less capable half of the human race. Even in the military they are treated like they are inferior. Look up the PT standards for men and women if you don't believe me. That doesn't come from ignorant enlisted people. Those are COMMISSIONED OFFICERS setting those standards.

All the way up the chain, they think women are inferior. And maybe they are right. Maybe women can't reasonably be expected to perform on the same level as a man, nor ever meet the minimum standards that are set for men.

Re:The point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977511)

Absolutely none.

It becomes a he-said, she-said if someone *claims* to have seen them on the phone when the accident occurred. Which very well could have been seconds after the accident to call 911.

Re:The point... (1)

iapetus (24050) | about a year ago | (#43977549)

The thing about phone records is that they distinguish between calls to 911 and calls to Susan.

Re:The point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977851)

But what does it PROVE when they look at a person's phone and it is revealed that were texting or talking to someone on the phone immediately before an accident?

If it was texting, that's one thing, but something else should be taken into consideration: many cars allow hands-free talking, or voice to text "texting". If that is the case, would the person that was talking to the alleged perpetrator of the crime have to be interviewed in order to determine whether what was being discussed may or may not have been the cause of the crash?

Would the police then need to request the recordings from the company to make sure that the people involved in the conversation were not lying?

Would it not just be easier to take the perp downstairs, beat the shit out of him (or rape the perp if it is female), shoot them in the head with a drop gun, and then make the body disappear. Hell, they could even give the meat to Sheriff Arpaio, who could then feed it to the people in Tent City. "Let this be a warning to you niggers, spics, (american) indians, and other undesirables. If you cross the law, we will cross you. And we will feed you to the filth of America."

Re:The point... (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43977837)

yeah
say 911 call comes in at 10:23am
cell phone records show one of the drivers was on a 30 minute long call ending at 10:22 and the location data shows his phone moving at 70mph

Re:The point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977885)

You dummy! If you tell everyone how to get the evidence forcibly taken from the phone thrown out of court, then what will you pay the lawyers for?

The legislator proposing this law is an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977451)

>then he’s got to do what? Subpoena the service to see if the phone was actively used or not?'"

Yes?

Fourth Amendment says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977455)

...Yes

Sounds reasonable to me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977477)

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

Yup! There is no imminent danger of another crash, take your time and do police work the proper way, not by violating civil liberties.

Warrant? (2)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about a year ago | (#43977485)

I thought the Supreme Court had all ready ruled that the pigs can't search your phone with out a warrant.

Re:Warrant? (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | about a year ago | (#43977945)

IIRC that was the Florida Supreme Court, doesn't really affect New Jersey although it probably gives some good talking points to laywers for a case.

Happy Tuesday from The Golden Girls!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977487)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true your a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend

Interpretable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977527)

"Cops can thumb through phones without a warrant."
This isn't how it'll be written (I hope) but the true version won't be far enough either.

It'll get passed under the cover of "Oh we're just after macfags who tweet and drive" but like most every other law ever the ambiguity will stretch more than [vulgar sexual reference removed].

Not very usefull (5, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#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.

minus 2, t8oll) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977539)

Jesus Up The Irrecoverabl3 I read the latest

Bluetooth? (4, Interesting)

RedShoeRider (658314) | about a year ago | (#43977551)

Yes, officer, I was on the phone. On my NJ-approved Bluetooth-based hands-free communication device.

Oh, you want to see the headset? Sorry, it's integrated into my car.

The text message? My car reads them back to me though the stereo. I wasn't looking at the screen.



Cops have a hard enough job, and there are already enough laws on the books. More laws do not fix stupidity, nor does increasing the punishment afterward fix the damage that was done.

Find/Replace (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43977553)

Find where: jobTitle= (cop || police officer)

Replace with: jobTitle= (judge && jury && executioner)

Get a grip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977677)

This will be used by a responding officer to indicate fault in an accident report, issue a citation, or place someone under arrest if appropriate. If you think this amounts to being an "executioner", I don't understand how you can get through the day given all the other ways that you could have been "executed" by "executioners" up until now.

There's a difference (2)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43977619)

There's a difference between the proper duties of a police officer and what is described here.

A police offer exists to serve and protect. This describes procedures to fish for charges. Society has naught to gain from giving cops the authority to search mobile phones without a warrant.

Yeah, it's cell phones for now... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977669)

But how soon will it be before it becomes like 1984 in the USA? Soon they won't be looking at our cell phones, they'll be plugging us into computers the way Neo was plugged into the Matrix, and they'll be retrieving our memories. What right would our government have to do such a thing?

If I were driving my car and caused an accident because I was texting, I should reasonably be able to presume that until judged guilty or innocent by a jury of my peers, that I am innocent in a court of law. Things should never get to the point where our personal rights are violated to the extent where the police can basically say "You killed x people, now we are going to plug your brain into a computer to figure out exactly what you were doing during and prior to the incident."

That would be such a massive violation of my rights as an American citizen, and I would never tolerate it. The law should not function like that. Regardless of whether I am guilty or not, I should have the opportunity to deceive the jury into thinking I'm innocent. Facts should never come into the equation for determining something like that. Our legal system would be ruined beyond repair if we started using hard facts and reality to determine fault and guilt in criminal cases.

Besides, imagine what would happen if Saddam Hussein Osama was hooked up to one of those machines and it was revealed that he wasn't actually born in Hawaii, but rather Kenya! Our glorious leader has just as much interest as I do in making sure such technology never exists.

I'm more concerned about NJ cops shooting me (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43977675)

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:I'm more concerned about NJ cops shooting me (1)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about a year ago | (#43977971)

Why would we agree that we can't disarm the police? Most police officers in England (and many other parts of the UK) do not carry firearms [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I'm more concerned about NJ cops shooting me (0)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | about a year ago | (#43978073)

This is probably the most specious argument I've heard at least since last time I read Slashdot.

Why do police get guns even when civilians don't? Because they represent the government and therefore have a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_on_violence) That means that police and the military are the only people we allow to use physical force on others, because they represent our elected government and therefore (ideally) the common good. The only other real options are Blade Runner (corporations and other non-governmental groups also have "legitimate" use of force) or Mad Max (simple anarchy).

Does this mean that handguns should be illegal? Not at all. I'm moderately pro-gun myself. But pretending that the police have no more right to use force than anyone else ("at least as large a threat as civilians") is undercutting even the possibility of contemporary society.

(I agree with everyone else that this cell phone law is idiotic, unhelpful and unconstitutional, by the way.)

At least a subpoena (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977691)

would be due process.

other people? (1)

mandginguero (1435161) | about a year ago | (#43977705)

When driving I'll often hand off my phone to the navigator in the passenger seat to talk for me.....if we happened to have a collision while passenger is talking on my phone, what sort of protection against false positives are there?

Re:other people? (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about a year ago | (#43977833)

Any passenger in the car at the time could testify that you were not using the phone. If they were talking with someone at the time of the accident the other person on the call could verify that you were not on the phone.

Re:other people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977921)

Which they can also do even if you were the one on the phone. Therefore this law is dumb.

Re:other people? (1)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about a year ago | (#43978099)

Whether evidence could be missinterpreted is usually not a factor in determining if it is legal to search for it.

Unreasonable search and seizure (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#43977715)

If the collision has been determined to be an accident, then by definition the driver isn't at fault [nytimes.com] . And if the driver isn't at fault, then what's the purpose of searching the driver's phone?

Re:Unreasonable search and seizure (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | about a year ago | (#43978057)

What about when the pig is searching my phone at the accident he comes across the text my brother sent me about the 5 kilos of weed he scored? Or the notes I made when I buried the body. or the bank account numbers to my secret millions that I've stolen?

Stupid politicians. (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#43977721)

This tends to re-inforce my idea that politicians are generally objectively stupid -- they probably have a high social intelligence, but very poor analytic skills.

In this case, this is probably the worst time to introduce such a bill. Wait until the furor about the NSA has died down (the US population has a short span of attention for such issues) and then introduce it. But right now? Pure, unbridled stupidity.

Good luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977761)

Well... good luck to some random cop when he tries to find how to check call history on my Openmoko Neo Freerunner :)

Re:Good luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977965)

And he'll shoot you in the fucking dick for not being able to check your call history.

Abuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977763)

This will make it even easier to "accidentally" erase those incriminating three minutes of beating a suspect with a billy club.

And after... (1, Troll)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#43977769)

And after he thumbs through your cell phone, he can arrest you, and then take a DNA sample. All without your consent.

Land of the free? Who are we trying to kid? nobody takes it seriously.

I've just understood "immigration reform" -- make it so abysmal to live here that even the Mexicans don't want to cross the border anymore.

Give the guys a break ... (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#43977791)

1) There's no mention in the summary or TFA that the cell phone will be perused at the scene of the accident. Just that it will be confiscated.
2) Anyone else seen "Air Crash Investigation"? The investigators check all data available for the cause of accident.

That second one is a killer. If I'm driving a Toyota and I hear that there's been lots of accidents in other Toyotas, I want to know the cause of those accidents. Toyota brakes failing or idiots texting.

Re:Give the guys a break ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977879)

If I'm driving a Toyota and I hear that there's been lots of accidents in other Toyotas, I want to know the cause of those accidents. Toyota brakes failing or idiots texting.

But, those who would trade the illusion of absolute privacy for information that might be useful desserve neither. Or something. I think Ben Franklin said it. Look it up.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977805)

Good luck getting into my cell phone.

Search the phones! (1)

cogeek (2425448) | about a year ago | (#43977835)

And while you're at it, check to see if they were changing the radio station, talking to their passenger, turning around and hitting their kids, pump their stomachs to see if they were eating anything, rubbing their eyes or any other thing that could possibly have caused a driver to be distracted and crash. Cell phone laws are just like hate crime laws. A crime is a crime, doesn't matter why. If someone's distracted and they cause an accident, they're at fault and bear the responsibility of any damages they've caused.

No. (1)

bytethese (1372715) | about a year ago | (#43977841)

Check that, FUCK no. As a new NJ resident this is stupid. What if the text was "written" hands free using Siri, etc? How exactly do you know crash times? What if it wasn't a deadly accident and someone made a phone call right after. It could be argued that you were on the phone before the crash, depending on whose clock you time the accident on. What if your cellphone has a password? Can they then compel you at the scene to give it up? I wouldn't. :P

Funny how... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977865)

Republicans see no problems with weakening the 1st (church/state, non-christians unable to get permits to build religious centers), 4th (eavesdropping, DNA swaths, invasive searches in public terminals, now this turd of a law), 5th (tell us how to read the hard drive for evidence), 6th (detain people indefinitely), 7th (forced arbitration), 14th (no more anchor babies and no equal protections for all legally married couples), 15th (lets make voting hard for minorities), 16th (taxes are for the poor), and 17th (make senators appointed again -- yes it's true).

Yet the 2nd amendment must never be touched even by reasonable restrictions like background checks.

All of you are buffoons. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977915)

Got a phone? Smash the fucker or leave it at home.

Morons.

unfit for self government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977935)

See title. Laws only work when they are enforceable. Until such a time...um, oops, I dropped it.

Wasted law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977999)

Phones can be set to not save copies of sent messages or calls..

So then what?

Wasted law, wasted money - nothing but vote pandering, but government is GOOD right? RIGHT?

No Thanks! (2)

organgtool (966989) | about a year ago | (#43978005)

In addition to all of the good comments posted above, it is still possible to make calls and send text messages legally through bluetooth headsets, car synchronization systems, etc. And there is currently no way to prove you were using the headset/sync system during the time of the crash which means that there would be strong evidence that you were doing something illegal and weak/non-existent evidence that you were doing it legally.

Ok due process here (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#43978007)

How will this prove or disprove anything, what if I say get in an accident and prior to their arrival I say delete my text and call histories. I realize they can just get a warrant for my records but still then they would have to do it legally.

Perhaps they just gave me an idea for a new app for iPhone and Droid, with 1 button push you can wipe your phones call and text history, I'll call it the FUCK YOU NJ POLICE app.

And.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978015)

What is considered "reasonable grounds"?

your honor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978017)

As you can see from the impromptu search of the defendants phone when I arrived on scene that they had called 911 within the time-frame of the accident clearly indicating they were using their phone while driving!

Didn't a judge someplace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978023)

Already rule that this was actually against the 5th amendment. And yes it is against the 4th amendment as well.

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