The Smoking Gun Mobile Device v. Civil Rights

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Feb 10, 2014 in Labor and Employment

Officer: So how did the accident happen?
Distracted Driver: I don’t really know.
Officer: Where you on your mobile phone?
Distracted Driver: No
Officer: May I see your drivers’ license?
Distracted Driver: Yes Sir.
Officer: Proof of insurance?
Distracted Driver: Here you go.
Officer: Now, please give me your mobile phone?
Distracted Driver? Excuse me?
Officer: Now.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in 2011 announced that about 3,000 people were killed and 387,000 injured in accidents involving distracted motorists. Since then eleven states have banned handheld cellphones use while driving, and 41 states have banned driving while texting.

A newly proposed New Jersey law would allow police to temporarily confiscate the mobile phone of suspected distracted drivers. The legislation would allow Police with “reasonable grounds” to suspect texting while driving to scroll through cell records at the accident scene. Previously no anti- texting specifically allowed for mobile phone search at an accident scene.

Not everyone loves the idea. Especially in light of recent disclosures that Uncle Sam has been monitoring American’s mobile phone and internet use habits. For example, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union (New Jersey) issued the following statement:

The constitution ” ….generally requires probable cause before authorizing a search, particularly when it comes to areas that contain highly personal information such as cellphones” “The legislature cannot authorize searches unless there is probable cause, therefore the bill is likely susceptible to a constitutional challenge.” Soon this battle between traffic safety and personal liberties will play out in the courts in New Jersey and states across the nation as lawmakers seek to put teeth into anti texting and handheld talking while driving.

Meanwhile, another study reveals that even talking on a speakerphone while driving doubles the risk on an accident. What about eating fast food while driving? The end of the drive throughs? Developing a law that reduces distracted driving while preserving civil liberties, won’t be easy. Oregon stay tuned.