Administrative Law

FCC stakes out Florida driver, seeks to fine him $48K for allegedly using cellphone jammer

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It is illegal in a number of jurisdictions to use a cellphone while driving, at least if it’s not hands-free device.

But it’s also illegal, based on similar safety concerns, for a driver to try to prevent fellow motorists from using cellphones by jamming their signals, the Tampa Tribune reports.

A Florida driver is apparently learning this lesson the hard way after a joint enforcement action earlier this year by the Federal Communications Commission and the Hillsborough County sheriff’s department.

After receiving a complaint from a cellular service provider that a transmission tower was regularly experiencing service interruptions during the morning and evening, the FCC staked out a stretch of Interstate 4. Agents soon detected a “strong wideband emission” that was coming from a blue sports utility vehicle, the newspaper recounts. The sheriff’s department pulled over Jason R. Humphreys, who allegedly admitted to the officers that he had been using a cellphone jammer during his daily commute for between one and two years “to keep people from talking on their cellphones while driving.”

The FCC seized the jammer from Humphreys, 60, and is now seeking in an administrative enforcement action (PDF) to fine him $48,000.

Humphreys could not be reached for comment by the Tribune. The Tampa Bay Times reported earlier that Humphreys is a Hillsborough County employee. Sheriff’s spokesman Larry McKinnon said the devices are not only illegal but dangerous, noting that officers said the Humphreys jammer blocked their law enforcement radio transmissions.

By using a cellphone jammer, “You are cutting off any communication for any type of emergency,” he told the newspaper. “You are potentially putting people’s lives at risk.”

A FCC press release provides additional details.

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