Distracted driving is responsible for many wrecks, and as a result there has been a push for auto makers to implement technologies aimed at reducing gadget-related distractions. There’s some controversy about whether those technologies help or cause more of an issue than they fix, but both those issues aside, New Jersey has a proposal on the table that would allow police officers to search a driver’s cell phone if they’ve been involved in a wreck.
The proposal was made by Senator James Holzapfel, and aims to discourage cell phones use while driving by making it easier to get caught, and to hold those who cause a wreck responsible for any cell phone use that might have been going on when the incident happened. According to the senator, the officer would need to have “reasonable grounds” to search the phone.
While it is known that some wrecks are the result of drivers paying too much attention to their cell phone and not enough to the road, the problem, according to law enforcement, is proving that to be the cause of the wreck. Presently, the most an officer can do is question the driver about whether he or she was on the phone during the crash, and if the driver does not admit to having been, there is no way to prove otherwise.
Under the proposal, an individual who caused a wreck could be forced to give their cell phone to the responding officer, who would then be allowed to look at their text message and call history, and possible social networking apps, for any activity that took place during the time of the accident. Such a proposal would be the first of its kind if it passes.
As you might suspect, the proposal has not gone over well, with individuals crying foul and the ACLU stating that such a law would possibly violate constitutional law because it would allow a search without probable cause. With the current hoopla over the NSA, pulled phone records, and PRISM, proposals that individuals be forced to hand over their tech for an impromptu search has not been well received.