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