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Cellphones Communications Crime Handhelds Wireless Networking

Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones 358

Posted by timothy
from the carl-hiaasen-on-high-alert dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Independent: An American driver is facing a $48,000 fine after using a mobile signal jammer in his car to block motorists around him from using their phones on the road. Jason Humphreys reportedly used the jammer from the back seat of his Toyota Highlander for around two years before being caught by Florida police. The 60-year-old said that he used the jammer – which transmits radio signals that interfere with mobile phones – because he was 'fed up' with watching others use their phones on the road. A story from late April (before the fine was levied) gives more detail: The case along I-4 started on April 29, 2013, when the cellular company Metro PCS contacted the Federal Communications Commission because a transmission tower along I-4 would suffer in the morning and evening. A week later, agents from the FCC's enforcement division in Tampa staked out the freeway on May 7, 8, and 9 and pinpointed a “strong wideband emission” in the cellphone wireless range “emanating from a blue Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicle,” with Florida license plates, according to a complaint issued by the FCC on Tuesday. Another clue: When Hillsborough County Sheriffs deputies stopped the SUV, their own two-way radios were jammed."
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Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones

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  • Re:Guy is a moron (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Salamander (33735) <jeff@[ ]atyp.us ['pl.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:18AM (#47305823) Homepage Journal

    I agree with the first part of your comment, and came here to say almost the same thing. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

    The second part makes you seem like a moron. Seriously, losing access to your e-toy for a minute or two is worth killing over? Get a grip.

  • Seems contrary... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rurouni_Jaden (846065) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:25AM (#47305871)
    Seems contrary to what he is trying to accomplish. I assume he wants people to put their phones down and pay more attention to driving. I think the results will be more people looking at their phones in confusion, trying to redial, etc. i.e. the exact opposite of paying more attention to their driving.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:34AM (#47305969)

    And if he drove past an accident and interrupted a 911 call? Man fuck you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:37AM (#47305995)

    To stop text/cell phone usage It's totally worth disrupting all two way radios in the 700/800mhz band (if not others), including, but not limited to, police, fire, medical, public works, private business, etc.

  • Re:You know ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameMaster (148118) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:39AM (#47306003)

    He's screwed because he's a complete moron. He's just another asshole with anger management issues and/or delusions of grandeur who decided to grant himself law enforcement powers. Not only did he block cellphones but, apparently, he was also interfering with the radio communications of first-responders. It'd be like someone driving up onto a busy sidewalk for a chance to get photographic evidence of someone jaywalking...

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:40AM (#47306015) Journal
    Jamming signals is illegal, and it could affect lots of legitimate use of cell phone use without being distracted. Data link for emergency and police vehicles, streaming in music, passengers using cell phones etc. So what he did was wrong.

    But he could could have bought one of those russian style dash cams. Mounted it on near the roof line, looking sideways and downwards. May be two such cams on either side of the vehicle. Record it continuously and report the actual distracted drivers, along with the video footage to police. Or without even going to police upload them into some kind of YouTube channel and shame them into compliance. When they see how seriously long, their "momentary" glance at the texts, the distance covered when they were distracted, most sane people will feel compelled to comply. After all, 99.9% of the people do come to full stop at stop signs even when there is no other vehicle is in sight, without any one policing it.

  • In other news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:40AM (#47306023)

    Wrong.

    By jamming their phones, drivers are more likely to look down at their phones wondering why the hell their calls isn't going through, making them MORE likely to cause an accident.

    Captcha = reckless

  • Re:You know ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:40AM (#47306025)

    Statistics and facts don't agree with you:

    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/texting-bans-dont-reduce-crashes-effects-are-slight-crash-increases [iihs.org]

    Numbers don't lie. Think about what you are advocating. In South Carolina a texting ban was just approved. Anyone that gets into any minor accident now can have their entire cellphone bill accessed to verify they weren't texting. We just created the lowest bar ever for a court to approve access to cellphone records by local police. I can't even imagine what would happen if they wanted to see your Google Talk or iChat logs to verify you weren't using them.

  • Re:I want one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:44AM (#47306063)

    I want a mobile version for my bicycle, so that people, you know, will refrain from trying to kill me all the time.

    Do you have any suggestions for what to do about cyclists who are jabbering on their phone via bluetooth while they ride? Or who are having their texts read to them? Or who are wobbling along at 10mph using an entire lane with a 45mph limit, as they fiddle with their handlebar-mounted smartphone's You Are Fabulous, Look How Fit You Are! app? Or those that weave through slow moving cars in order to beat them to a red light so they can scoot across the intersection against the light when they think they can make it? Most of the risk I see involving cyclists is completely self-inflicted. We have all sorts of bicycle lanes around here, paid for by all tax payers, but reserved just for those special snowflakes on bikes. And those lanes look just fantastic there, empty, while the guy on the road bike climbs a hill at 3mph in the middle of traffic in a main lane right next to it. So far, my sympathy continues to hover right around zero.

  • by Stellian (673475) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:45AM (#47306067)

    he was acting in self defense to prevent an idiot driving while on a cell phone from causing an accident

    "The signal is bad around these parts... let's switch to message chat !"

    This is a prime example of why we have societies, laws and regulations - in this case those designed to stop mobile phone usage. Going for an individual solution quickly devolves into mayhem: thousands of bystanders affected, emergency calls interrupted, and probably not a single accident prevented.

  • Re:In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cripkd (709136) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:45AM (#47306075) Homepage
    Came here to say exactly this.
    Whoever uses the phone while driving will try 2-3 times and have his eyes on the phone longer as opposed as having the other side answer and him talking and leat looking in front of him.
    Yes, I know the attention span of someone talking on the phone and driving is the same as someone who's drunk, but still it must beat not looking at the road.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:46AM (#47306087)

    ... drivers trying to troubleshoot their phones. If you've ever been in the car with someone trying to reboot their phone, re-sync bluetooth, change their map destination, etc... you know they are more dangerous than anyone talking - I wonder how many inadvertent accidents his jammer caused.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @10:57AM (#47306185)

    If you pretentious jerks would follow the rules of the road Instead of doing things like: splitting lanes with cars, especially when they're stopped at a traffic control; riding next to your buddies in the car lane when you have a perfectly good bike lane; and completely ignoring traffic controls creating situations that would get a motorist killed if they tried that in a car; you might not think people were trying to kill you.

    It always shocks me when I see one whose actually following the rules of the road.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @11:10AM (#47306297)

    That there is the problem with vigilanteism. It's fueled by emotional reaction which is almost never coupled strongly with rational thought.

  • by a-zarkon! (1030790) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @11:37AM (#47306543)
    Where is this land of the bike lane you speak of? I would totally use that if they had them around here. Just a lot of country roads and thankfully usually not a lot of traffic where I am. I ride alone and hug the side of the road as close as I'm able. What really irritates me is the people who seem to have a real issue with bikes. Full size pickup truck who misses your handlebar by about 3 inches as they pass you at 45-50 mph on a 30 mph street. No traffic coming, could easily move a half a foot to the left, but would rather see how close they can get without actually hitting you. This is a small percent of motorists - but it's definitely something you can expect to have happen at least once per ride around here.
  • Re:You know ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Larry_Dillon (20347) <dillon.larry@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @11:42AM (#47306579) Homepage

    Your second sentence is correct, but part of the social contract wherein citizens forgo taking the law into their own hands is effective law enforcement. Nearly every time you see citizens resort to vigilante justice, it's due to a lack of effective law enforcement.

  • Re: In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rikkards (98006) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @11:54AM (#47306717) Journal

    Which given enough time will do absolutely zero for accidents. The problem isn't the handsfree, it is the fact you have someone paying more attention to what is being said on the other side of the phone call than actually what is happening around them. Driving should take up 100% of your attention.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @12:10PM (#47306879)

    All he has to do is claim he was acting in self defense to prevent an idiot driving while on a cell phone from causing an accident around him.

    There is a saying we have in manufacturing that "local maximums make global minimums". Just because it is optimal for one part of the system doesn't mean it is globally optimal. His jamming activities could easily interfere with 911 or emergency broadcasts or ambulance transmissions or cell phones that have nothing to do with anyone driving. He's basically deciding unilaterally that his needs should be placed ahead of everyone else's. It's self indulgent and potentially dangerous. We regulate the airwaves and how people can use them for VERY good reasons. Reasons that are much more important than his little temper tantrum.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @12:15PM (#47306929)

    I can't say I disagree with why he did it

    I disagree with why he did it. He could have easily jammed 911 calls, ambulance transmissions to hospitals, law enforcement, first responder requests/communications, etc. Not to mention all the people he blocked who were not driving, i.e. passengers. He unilaterally decided that his needs were more important than everyone else's. As far as I'm concerned he should see some jail time in addition to a huge fine. This is not a small deal.

    From what I can tell, at any given time a huge fraction of drivers are either texting, or holding onto their phone and talking.

    That's true but it doesn't give anyone the right to go all vigilante about the problem.

    I feel bad for this guy,

    I don't. He's a self indulgent asshole.

  • Re: In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @12:59PM (#47307365)
    Around here, buses have a "don't talk to the driver unless stopped" sign in the front. Somehow I don't see the regular car driver being magically better at multi-tasking to deserve better.

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