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BLF Tip of the Week

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Do I have to let the police have access to my cell phone? 

Last week Louisiana saw the release of a new app that contains access to a digital copy of your Louisiana Driver’s license. The thought is that this app can replace a valid hard copy of your license, particularly when dealing with state police and public safety officials. Of course, the side effect is that the officer might have access to your cellular device. 

See the LA Wallet in the link below.
www.lawallet.com

What you should know:  

1. Police cannot access your cell phone device without a search warrant. If they have a search warrant, you have to give them the phone.

2. Even with a warrant, you are not required to give a law enforcement officer your security key or password. You can respectfully decline allowing the officer to access your phone and you do not have to provide your password. This all changes if you give consent to search your phone and give them your password. 

3. The new law does not serve as consent or authorization for a search of your phone. The law states: 

“(e) The display of a digitized driver's license shall not serve as consent or authorization for a law enforcement officer, or any other person, to search, view, or access any other data or application on the mobile device. If a person presents their mobile device to a law enforcement officer for purposes of displaying their digitized driver's license, the law enforcement officer shall promptly return the mobile device to the person once he has had an opportunity to verify the identity and license status of the person.”

Here’s a link to the new law.

The app is a great idea, however, you might not want police having access to your phone. While the law doesn’t construe the app as a consent to search, once inside, everything is accessible and downloadable, including information you think has been deleted. If you have a valid hard copy of your license and have concerns, you might choose to still use it. 

Contact the Borghardt Law Firm with questions or if you have issues with the use of this digital app.

Franz Borghardt