NJ Legislature considers bill that would let officers search cellphones without a warrant following motor vehicle crashes

The state Legislature is considering a bill that would allow police officers to search cellphones without a warrant immediately following a car crash. The bill,

Bill would let NJ police search cellphones after crashes

Bill would let NJ police search cellphones after crashes (6/10/13)

TRENTON - The state Legislature is considering a bill that would allow police officers to search cellphones without a warrant immediately following a car crash.

The bill, proposed by state Sen. James Holzapfel, is meant to help investigators determine whether a motorist was using a cellphone at the time of the accident.

Fair Lawn Police Sgt. Brian Metzler says officers can't always determine whether a cellphone was the reason for a crash. Officers can ask the driver if they were on the phone, but without a warrant, they can not check the phone's history.

Civil rights advocates say the bill violates drivers' privacy.

"The Legislature cannot authorize searches unless there is probable cause, therefore the bill is likely susceptible to a constitutional challenge,” said the New Jersey ACLU in a statement.

Authorities say the bill would require reasonable grounds for searching a phone.

The state's Highway Traffic Safety Division says there were 1,840 handheld cellphone-related crashes in New Jersey in 2011, resulting in 807 injuries and six deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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