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

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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.

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If you get into a car crash, should police be allowed to look through your cell phone?

Only with probable cause Everybody's phone should be checked Not without a warrant

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