SPRINGFIELD - It's illegal to text while driving in Illinois, but proof that a driver has been texting got a little harder to prove Wednesday when the U.S. Supreme Court protected cell phones from search and seizure without a judge's warrant.
Illinois' ban on texting declares that "A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device." There are then exceptions, like "a driver using an electronic communication device in hands-free or voice-operated mode,which may include the use of a headset.
Attorney Peter Breen says how that may be handled practically could be a challenge for law enforcement. "To get a ticket for this would seem to require a visual confirmation that the driver has a phone in hand, held up to his head or held up within view and texting," Breen told Illinois Review. "If the officer sees that, he probably would just write a ticket. No need to look at the phone."
But if the driver says he was not using the handheld phone to illegally text, law enforcement possibly would be required to get a warrant before confiscating the phone to see whether or not the person was, indeed, texting.
The U.S. Supreme Court said law enforcement would not have authority to scroll through the driver's smart phone in order to find evidence that can be used against the driver. How that will be applied in the case of Illinois' texting ban remains to be seen.