Bill Would Let NJ Police Search Cellphones

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

Police in New Jersey might be allowed to search cellphones without a warrant after a motor vehicle crash, if a bill introduced in the state Senate passes.

Sen. James Holzapfel (R-Ocean County) said that a police officer has a slim chance of witnessing a crash and it would be near impossible to deduce if the driver had been talking while driving. Having a phone in the car is like having an open bottle of liquor, he said.

The state’s American Civil Liberties Union says state and federal constitutions generally require police to have probable cause in order to conduct a search. The state’s Highway Traffic Safety Division says there were 1,840 handheld cell phone-related crashes in New Jersey in 2011, resulting in 807 injuries and six deaths.