Proposed law would permit warrantless cell phone searches
A law proposed by a Vermont lawmaker would permit authorities to search cell phones without warrants.
Lawmakers want to make it easier for officers like [Jean Miques] Bariteau [pictured] to enforce Vermont’s 2014 ban on using hand-held devices while on highways. They’re asking Vermonters to give up some of their privacy in exchange for safer roads. But even the chief sponsor of the bill said he hasn’t “really thought about” what, exactly, would be fair game for a warrantless search under his bill.
H.527, introduced by Rep. Martin LaLonde, D-South Burlington, would allow law enforcement officers to see a driver’s phone or other electronic device, to see if it was being used. LaLonde said he doesn’t intend for police to be able to take a person’s phone back to his squad car and rummage through it.
“Essentially, it’s ‘show me your text log,’” he said.
But opponents say the proposal goes too far, and even LaLonde said he isn’t sure if the bill can “thread the needle” between giving law enforcement better tools and protecting privacy.