By on April 30, 2014

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Network World is reporting that a Florida man who installed a cellular telephone jammer in the back seat of his Toyota Highlander is facing $48,000 in fines levied by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC alleges that one Jason R Humphreys of Seffner, FL regularly used the device during his daily commute and that he originally installed it more than two years ago. When questioned about his reasoning, Mr. Humphreys told officials that he installed the jammer in order to prevent people in the cars around him from using their cell phones while driving – something that is, by the way, totally legal in the state of Florida with or without a hands-free device.

The case first came to light when T-Mobile USA’s local carrier, a company called Mobile PCS, noticed problems with their towers over a 12 mile stretch of Interstate 4 between Seffner and Tampa. After finding that the interference seemed to coincide with the morning and evening commutes, Mobile PCS contacted the FCC who used direction finding equipment to identify the suspect’s blue Toyota Highlander. When Sherriff’s deputies approached the car, they found that their police radios ceased to work as well and, after a search of the vehicle, found the jamming device hidden beneath a seat cover in the back seat.

Cellular jammers are illegal to own, manufacture or import into the United States and the FCC has taken a hardline stance against their use. Mr. Humphrey’s fine technically covers two separate charges, one for use of an illegal device and another for causing intentional interference, and is being assessed for a single use of the device. Given the length of time he claims to have employed it, however, the fine could have gone as high as $337,000. He has 30 days to either pay up or file a response.

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97 Comments on “Motorist Faces $48,000 In Fines For Mounting Cellular Signal Jammer In Car...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    Among the possible solutions to the problems of distracted driving are awareness campaigns and legislative action by elected officials. Vigilante action to disrupt our telecommunications is not one of them. The FCC is right not to tolerate this sort of nonsense.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Why not? It strikes me like totally viable self-preservation tactic. Since the Gov decided to let the STUPID to continue on their STUPID ways.

      Except that, the people yapping on the cell phones will be even more distracted by the sudden loss of signal, start staring at their phone bars and re-dialing and re-sending texts repeatedly, which increases his risk.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you (gol-durned) meddling kids.”

      ;-)

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        Why didn’t the moron shut it off when he got pulled over and the police noticed that their radios stopped working? Seems like that might have made sense. I think this is a good thing in a way because people need to hang up and drive. But also bad that it shuts off service for emergency needs. It makes sense that it’s highly illegal to use one, but I understand this guy’s misguided logic.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Awareness campaigns and legislation are not a solution. As soon as you hit the Maryland border, you are made aware of the law against handheld devices in cars. That’s why people look down at the cell phone in their lap, rather than holding it out in front of them where they can at least see the road ahead in their peripheral vision.

    • 0 avatar
      b72

      Just because there is a phone in use in the vicinity does not necessarily mean it is being used by another driver. There are also passengers, pedestrians, and those that live and work nearby.

  • avatar

    Quite honestly, forget the legal implications of doing this. Consider the likely practical results.

    If a cellphone stops working under those circumstances, I think people would panic and try harder to make the call, which is going to make them even more distracted than they would have been if successful in making the call.

    So not only is this a bad idea on moral grounds, it won’t work to protect against distracted driving. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    D

    • 0 avatar
      YellowDuck

      my reaction exactly

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      That was myy reaction as well. They aren’t going to instantly put the phone down and focus, they are going to try to troubleshoot.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      So don’t stop people from doing stupid/dangerous things because they’ll just become dumber and more dangerous?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      + 1

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yup.

      He wasn’t real bright, though I get the feeling he was as smug about it as he wasn’t clever.

      (Though contra our host, as far as I can tell it’s not illegal to *own* such a device, just to *use* it or market one in the US.

      Which – especially the former – sounds about right to me.

      The FCC’s page [http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/jamming-cell-phones-and-gps-equipment-against-law] is silent about imports.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        It may not be illegal to own one, but according to this older link, it’s definitely illegal to import one (question 7):

        [http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/jammerenforcement/jamfaq.pdf]

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      David,

      Quite honestly, I want to use a jammer that burns up the cell phone altogether, so that no one will try to diagnose its malfunction. There needs to be a punitive element here. You do NOT have the freedom to endanger my life; but I WILL exercise the freedom to protect myself and others from BDBH’s (brain-dead booger-heads).

      Driving with a cell phone in use, — in any way — is irresponsible and dangerous. That behavior is banned in Europe. Why should we tolerate it here?

      Get off the damn phone and drive, for Heaven’s sake. You need all the facilities you have to do so effectively. If some little kid runs out in front of you, what are you going to say? “Gee officer, I didn’t see him: I was looking at my text message.” Please. Try explaining that to the squashed kid’s parents…

      —————-

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    I would love to have a switch on my steering wheel that would cause a slight shock to distracted driving cell phone users/texters causing them to drop the phone, never going to happen but….

    My pet peeve are drivers in vehicles that I know are equipped with Bluetooth still holding their phones up to their ears….argh!!!!!

  • avatar
    mitchw

    I’d like a secret and illegal device that blacks out the screen of a smartphone when the traffic light turns green. I quite clearly see those people reading their texts and tweets, so I believe I can be trusted with this awesome power.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    My only concern is blocking 911 traffic. If somehow there was a way 911 and EMS cell/radio traffic could continue and the rest be blocked I say give the man a fricking medal, but he could have endangered people in an emergency and that is wrong. FCC can shove it with their rule and fines.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      It is impossible to do unless 911 and EMS are on a different band, and you know those cheap ebay jammer are not the most precise frequency generator with sharp cutoff at the said frequency.

      So I’d not be surprise that it not only jam cell phone signals, but also other frequency like law enforcement, emergency broadcast, and potentially in the future radio and car to car communication for driverless car.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I sort of figured as such I was just throwing a hypothetical out there. I could not condone such action if it would interfere with emergency services.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I see no mandate for blocking passenger cell phone use, either.

          Or sitting-stopped use.

          Jammers are a nuclear solution to a fly-sized non-problem, in the real world.

          The FCC’s *most defensible* use of power is things just like this, I think.

          His moral high horse about ‘nobody using a phone near me’, no matter if they’re the driver or not, no matter why, and who cares what consequences that has, is far, far less defensible than “thou shalt not unlaterally decide that you can overwhelm communication on the airwaves”.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This man had no right or real reason to do this, but I can’t help but laugh at the thought of the technicians trying to figure out what was causing the disruptions everyday at 8am and 5pm along this little stretch of highway

  • avatar
    Toad

    If he has the option of a jury trial he will probably be fine. Out of 12 people somebody will practice Jury Nullification.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I wonder if he could use “self-defense” as an argument. :)

    • 0 avatar
      rdsymmes

      He’s screwed. It’s the Feds. Ma and Pa Kettle won’t be seated in that jury.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you think enough people who get selected for jury will know about the principle of jury nullification?

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        And do you think any of them would want to?

        Viewpoint A here is “he’s standing up against wicked cell-phone users who drive!”.

        Viewpoint B is he’s worse than a vigilante [vigilantes, after all, at least go after *lawbreakers*], disrupting people who are driving without distraction using a hands-free device and just talking, and passengers, all for his own sense of Moral Superiority Over Phones.

        I’d vote to convict, not just on the law, but because he deserves it.

    • 0 avatar
      Avatar77

      Nobody has that option. It’s dumb luck whether he’ll get a juror who decides that they will break their oath to follow the law. Jurors are supposed to decide facts, not rewrite laws. This is likely a civil fine anyhow, and this guy is dead-to-rights in terms of proof. Doubt a jury would ever see it.

      • 0 avatar
        cls12vg30

        If it comes before a Grand Jury, then your statement is false. Grand Juries are in fact supposed to consider whether or not a law is just.

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        Yeah, well, that’s your wrong opinion.

        The entire purpose of jury nullification is to allow juries to strike down unjust laws. Sure, judges and legislative bodies don’t like it, but government derives its authority from the consent of the governed.

  • avatar
    SimRacingDan

    What about this jammer did this guy think limited it to jamming cell phones being used in cars? This jerk was jamming every cell phone within its effective radius that he drove by.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    Move to Vegas Humphreys, you can nothing but good there. Accidents would drop 80%.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Thanks for the heads up on the legality of jammers. I live in Florida, and have considered installing one myself. I wouldn’t leave it on all the time. Just toggle it when I’m at an intersection and the light turns green.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      You would probably end up sitting through the green light as all the drivers redialed, rebooted, and retexted. In the meantime you would get rear ended by grandma because she saw a green light and hit the gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Elena

      When I first drove in Florida I researched A LOT about cell jammers (in spite of being fully aware they were illegal). I wanted a very short range device which I was never able to even design. I don’t know whether it’s worse here, but quite often morons almost hit me while totally oblivious of risky maneuver I involved myself into to avoid collision. When politely approached to ask if they would drive any better with their mobile device inserted in their anal cavity I’ve been called rude and once told when it comes to road rage I’m The Queen. Verging into my lane at 50+ MPH while texting is considered polite? Guess I lack the proper cultural background.

      • 0 avatar
        Sky_Render

        In theory, it’s pretty easy to design a cell phone jammer. You just need something that puts out a metric crap ton of noise on a few specific frequencies…

  • avatar
    319583076

    When I lived in Southern CA about a decade ago, a local cinema owner got into trouble for jamming reception in his business. I tried to find schematics that I could build and deploy during my commute just like this guy. My capacity for the project was less than the demands of successfully completing it. However, real commutes are fatiguing and perilous – especially with cell-phone and infotainment addled drivers in the mix. I sympathize with this guy, although I cannot condone his actions, for reasons that have been expounded above.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      It’s not illegal to jam signals on your own property/business, so long as the signal interference doesn’t extend past the bounders of said property. I’m sure a movie theater could legally employ some passive signal blocking method such as lining the walls with some kind of metallic film, thereby turning the theater into a large Faraday cage.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        I’m fairly certain that your first claim isn’t true. It looks like there are two basic restrictions to consider:

        - You can’t willfully interfere with licensed/authorized/US government stations. I’m pretty sure this applies to cell phones, but if not, it certainly applies to cell towers. You might have a case for jamming pirate radio, however.

        - You can’t operate a transmitter of any kind without an FCC authorization. Even if you could sneak something through the first restriction, this one knocks you out.

        Cost and feasibility aside, the case for passive jamming could be interesting. My suspicion is that it’s the deliberate construction of such a thing that would get you in trouble.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Actually, you can legally use a CB radio without an FCC license. Remote control cars and RC planes, as well as low-powered walky-talkies (not FRS) are also legal transmitters that do not require a license.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            Right, they’re not licensed — but they are authorized. (FCC approval number and logo, that “harmful interference” boilerplate, etc.) That’s what makes it legal.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Darkwing is right about this one. The FCC regulates the transmission of all signals.

        Receiving signals is one thing; sending them is something else entirely. The theory is that the demand for bandwidth exceeds the supply, so it must be regulated in order to ensure fairness.

        There are certain transmissions that are approved without a specific license, such as your mobile phone signal, CB radio and the remote locking/unlocking feature of your car, but they’re all governed by the feds.

        Exceeding the wattage limits of permitted uses or other transmitting without the appropriate license is a big no-no. Phone jammers are illegal in the US, and it’s illegal to sell them here.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I admit that it is tempting to try the same thing as I have close to a two hour commute and am confronted quite regularly by many folks too self involved to worry about the line of cars behind them as they talk and or text. Knowning the fines involved and that simply ownership of these devices makes it a risk far outweighing the reward. I am guessing that being stuck behind some self absorbed chatty Cathys suddenly looks like a good option when you are facing a $48K fine and probably some heafty legal bills

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Just another “Florida Man” adventure.

    http://mashable.com/2013/02/11/twitter-florida-man/

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Priceless!

      “Florida Man With Sex Toy In His Rectum Arrested For Rear-Ending Another Vehicle, DUI”

      “Police Arrest Florida Man For Drunken Joyride On Motorized Scooter At Walmart ”

      “Drunk Florida Man Tries To Use Taco As ID After His Car Catches Fire At Taco Bell ”

      “Florida Man Attacks Three Women With Sword And Peanut Butter Sandwich”

      “Florida Man Shoots And Kills Roommate Over Pork Chop”

      “Naked Florida Man Runs Through Dunkin’ Donuts”

      “Florida Man Arrested For Giving Wedgies”

      “Florida Man Repeatedly Called 911 Saying He Needed A Ride To Mexico ”

      … and my favorite

      “Florida Man Shoots Himself In Crotch With Flare Gun”

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I bet if he had just asked for a ride to Cuba they would have obliged.

        This one is my favorite of your list:
        Drunk Florida Man Tries To Use Taco As ID After His Car Catches Fire At Taco Bell

  • avatar
    alsorl

    This was also a tea party member and listens to glen beck religiously.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Is this true, and if so, how is it relevant?

      Or is it just putting politics somewhere that it is not needed, wanted, or helpful?

      • 0 avatar
        alsorl

        It just pointing out the obvious. You can always see threw the ones that fringe on other people freedoms. Let’s buy an jamming device and show those people. While all along the dude is probably on a cb or some kind of two way radio.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff Weimer

          So you’re…assuming this guy is a Glenn Beck listening Tea Partier. Because apparently they represent everything you consider wrong with the world.

          It’s far less of a stretch to see that you are a buffoon.

          • 0 avatar
            alsorl

            He just sounds like someone that is worried about other people instead of taking care of himself. And yes, there is probably a 80 to 90% chance this guy is a conspiracy freak and listens to glen Beck.

  • avatar
    Ion

    I’m tired of the high and mighty who think it’s ok to police the road. Pay attention , drive defensively, and mind your damn business. It’s not your job to flash your lights at me because my driving lights are in my grille, or cut in front of me because you didn’t like me passing someone, or decide that I shouldn’t have cell phone service in my car even if I have Bluetooth.

  • avatar

    I think in all of us resides a narcissistic, know it all.
    It’s that dark side that assumes we know what’s best for everyone else.
    And any ass hat behaviour because of this attitude is justified because…..you know…..we know what’s best.
    Thankfully most people keep this attitude where it belongs, in their head and never putting it into action.
    This guy couldn’t do or wouldn’t do that, and while the fines seem draconian I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for his plight.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      Reminds me of the old Carlin line “Everybody driving slower than you is an idiot and everyone driving faster than you is a maniac”

      Some just can’t step outside their own head, as evidenced by many of the comments here.

  • avatar
    steevkay

    I’ve been tempted before by such an idea, but realized I stream all my music during my commute from my phone. Local radio isn’t that great and my car doesn’t have a satellite radio system.

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    ALSORL:::::
    Your mother is calling and wants you to go back
    to the Basement

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Too bad he got caught. It wouldn’t bother me since I never turn my Tracfone on – I carry it only because I drive a 14 year old car and pay phones are now gone.

    Who wants to give up the peace and quiet of the commute for meaningless phone conversations? Most people are not nearly as interesting to talk to as they think.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Hi, I’m your clone and of course I completely agree.

      I have the cheapest possible Tracfone for which I’m forced to pay $100/year to have the privilege of using it 3-4 times/year.

      The 2nd last thing I want to do, after sliding down a giant razor blade into a vat of isopropyl, is to talk to anyone but my wife (as a passenger) when I’m driving.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    While it’s almost an amusing way to disrupt cell phone users on the road the disruption to emergency and law service radio is understandably not cool. These devices are illegal for a good reasons.
    There must be better ways to discourage those fools twitching down the highway 15MPH below the speed limit in the passing lane…

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    So Cell Jammers are supposedly illegal, but you can just go and easily buy one online. How does that work?

  • avatar
    April

    I would love to have a AM radio jammer. Tin foil hat wearing right wing radio listeners behind the wheel of their truck-boat-truck in my vicinity always concern me.

    :D

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Spilling over into and interfering with police/ambulance freqs… rookie mistake!!

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    His actions were pretty stupid. However, jammers have their place. When I was a railroad commuter, the jerks on cellphones was frustrating and anger-inducing. I was about to buy a jammer to use when the ruckus got to be too much. I wound up driving instead….

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Where was this rail commute? Stateside, I’ve never been on an Amtrack without a quiet car.

      If you’re talking about a metro light rail, is it your place to enforce how people behave in a public place?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Lie3me
    I do think some of the people near where I live are as dumb or dumber than people in Florida. Darwin’s theory of evolution at work.

    The guy in this link is brave;

    http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/only-in-the-territory/why-i-stuck-a-cracker-up-my-clacker/story-fnk2tg5d-1226744991457

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Forget the phone jammer..
    How about a ‘THUMPER BUMPER LOUD AUDIO JAMMER’!!!!
    That makes me a lot madder than someone on a phone!!!

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    One name; Courtney Sanford.
    People who use the phone while driving should be burned on a bonfire.
    Today some imbecille using the phone backed into my car in a parking lot.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    What flavor was it? Raspberry? No one gives Dark Helmet the raspberry.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’d like to get a jammer and use it in the movie theater .

    I have no idea there’s any way to get them Stateside .

    Prolly to dang expen$ive for me anyway .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      An older guy named Curtis Reeves tried enforcing cell phone use in a movie theater, not far from where this guy used his jammer.

      Didn’t end particularly well…

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    My boom-car subwoofer jammer is still legally a-ok though. Right?

    • 0 avatar
      cls12vg30

      I don’t hear nearly as many thumping, license-tag-rattling bass systems as I used to. Maybe the police around here have cracked down on the decibel limits, I don’t know. But ten years ago these annoyed me so much, my twisted brain was longing to think up a portable directed-EMP device.

      It does occur to me thought that many of the same guys I used to see in thump-mobiles are the same ones I now see driving with earbuds in….

  • avatar
    JK43123

    1. If it is legal to be on a cell phone and drive, then it is illegal to interfere. Period. I wish it was illegal everywhere but it isn’t.

    2. What did this guy accomplish? No one said “wow my cell dropped a call, better not talk on the phone while driving.” They simply redialed and moved on. It is funny to think about, but in reality it accomplished nothing.

    John


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