Texting While Driving: Should Cops Be Able To Check Your Cell Phone? [Poll]
One New Jersey police chief says it is unconstitutional in New Jersey. What do you think Millburn-Short Hills?
There is no doubt texting while driving is not safe, but should police officers be able to check your phone during a motor vehicle stop?
At least in New Jersey you don't have to worry about it, according to one state police chief.
"It is not legal in the state of New Jersey," said Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward. "It has been deemed unconstitutional."
According to Ward, the police cannot just grab the phone during a motor vehicle stop or at the scene of an accident.
"We need to get a warrant to look into it," he said. "The only way we would have the opportunity to seek cell phone records is if there's probable cause to believe the phone was involved ... but we'd need a witness and/or probable cause. We can't just arbitrarily check someone's cell phone."
While some states allow for police to search a phone without a warrant, many do not. The courts nationwide remain divided.
In 2011, "driver inattention" contributed to 178 motor vehicle fatalities, according to the New Jersey State Police's annual report.
While police cannot arbitrarily ask to check your phone, New Jersey has some of the stiffest fines in the country to curb cell phone use while driving.
Last year, the state increased the penalties for texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel. The fines are now $200 for a first offense, $400 for a second offense, and $600 for a third or subsequent offense.
On the third offense, a driver could also forfeit his or her license for up to 90 days. Three points are added onto your license for the third offense and everyone thereafter.
What do you think, Millburn? Do you think police should be able to check your phone when you are pulled over? Would this lead to fewer accidents, and encourage more people not to text and drive?
Vote in the poll or add your comments below!