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A New Law Would Allow Police to Search Your Cell Phone Following a Crash

Distracted driving
David McNew, Getty Images

This is so weird, just yesterday I witnessed a little fender bender in downtown Evansville involving a driver who lightly rear-ended another vehicle. When they got out of their cars, the driver at fault admitted to the other driver she was looking at a text, to which the other driver responded in a way I can’t print here. I thought to myself, without her admission, it’s too bad the police couldn’t just ask to see her phone. Well, a new law is being proposed in New Jersey that would require drivers to surrender their cell phones in addition to their license, registration and proof of insurance at an accident scene.

If passed, the law would allow a police officer to go through your phone to determine if you were using your phone at the time of the collision and how you were using it. There is no other law like this in the U.S. In 2009, a similar bill was introduced in Hawaii but failed.

The object of course, is to cut down the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. New Jersey law prohibits drivers from talking on a cell phone while driving unless they are using a hands-free device.

Many believe laws like this need to go beyond just cell phones and should include hands-free devices, GPS and any entertainment device that could contribute to a driver’s attention being diverted away from the road.

There are also many who believe that a law such as this, that allows law enforcement to check your phone goes too far and could be a big-time invasion of privacy. In fact, the New Jersey branch of the ACLU says just that.

The fear is, if this law is passed, it could open the flood gates for more laws that might come dangerously close to infringing on our right to privacy. Again, a similar bill failed miserably in Hawaii in 2009 and most believe this law will not pass either, but if it does pass….we could find ourselves treading very lightly on a very slippery slope. What do you think?

[NBC News]

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