New Jersey Cellphone Confiscation Law Brings Up Privacy Issues

Posted on June 11, 2013

As states make a concerted effort to crack down on distracted driving, you’re seeing lawmakers pass ever-stricter measures on the practice.  California is no different, with legislators recently looking into the possibility of banning handheld cellphones and raising the fines an offender could expect to pay.

But other states are attempting to affirm their ability to convict drivers who have been pulled over for committing a cellphone-based offense.  A new report looks at the efforts of New Jersey lawmakers to do just that and also wonders about the future legal battle this could create.

Yesterday, the state’s Senate introduced a bill that would require drivers to hand their phones over to officers should a crash involving property damage, injury, or death take place.  However, a legal professor at Seton Hall explains that such a move might be an overreach.  As opposed to something like seeing a liquor bottle and confiscating that because of the suggestion that the driver is drunk, this measure, she explains, involves actually gaining access to a person’s information.

That professor believes that the United States Supreme Court may eventually have to weigh in on this measure or others like it that have been enacted throughout the country.  Citizens interviewed for the story came down on both sides of the issue, with some worrying about the lack of privacy and others seeing a boost to safety.

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