Moriarty & Benson Bill to Restrict Access to Motor Vehicle Recording Device Data & Protect Driver Privacy Becomes Law

Legislation Assemblymen Paul Moriarty and Daniel Benson sponsored to limit access to data from devices in automobiles that can capture information about the driver's activity was signed into law on Monday.

"The preservation of electronic data from any of these sources is becoming vital to the defense of litigation in accidents," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "These recordings may be the most reliable and objective source of information about the events that occurred just prior to a crash. This law is necessary to preserve the integrity of the recordings and protect what may be used as evidence in court."

Legislation Assemblymen Paul Moriarty and Daniel Benson sponsored to limit access to data from devices in automobiles that can capture information about the driver's activity was signed into law on Monday.

"The preservation of electronic data from any of these sources is becoming vital to the defense of litigation in accidents," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "These recordings may be the most reliable and objective source of information about the events that occurred just prior to a crash. This law is necessary to preserve the integrity of the recordings and protect what may be used as evidence in court."

"Crash data retrieved from a vehicle's black box can play a critical role in determining what exactly happened at the time of an accident, but it's always essential that sensitive information doesn't get into the wrong hands," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This law will eliminate the ambiguity about whether this information is the property of the car's owner, its manufacturer or someone else. Even more importantly, this law promotes driver safety while guarding privacy."

Under the new law (A-3579), individuals other than the owner of the motor vehicle that contains the recording device, or the owner's representative, are prohibited from retrieving, obtaining, or using data recorded, stored, or transmitted from the recording device, unless:

· the owner, or the owner's representative, consents to the duration and scope of data retrieval, retention, and use, prior to or at the time the data is retrieved, obtained, or used;

· the recorded data is retrieved or obtained by a law enforcement officer pursuant to a search warrant issued by a Superior Court judge or upon order by a court of competent jurisdiction or, in the case of recorded data other than vehicle location, a grand jury subpoena;

· the recorded data is used for the purpose of improving motor vehicle safety, including security, performance, operation, compliance with traffic laws, traffic management, or medical research, provided that the identity of the owner, operator or other occupant of the vehicle is not disclosed;

· the recorded data is retrieved or obtained by a licensed new motor vehicle dealer, a motor vehicle repair or servicing facility and a technician or mechanic at such a facility, or the manufacturer of the motor vehicle, and used for the sole purpose of diagnosing, servicing, or repairing the motor vehicle;

· the recorded data is accessed by an emergency response provider and used for the sole purpose of determining the need for or facilitating an emergency medical response in the event of a motor vehicle crash; or

· the recorded data is retrieved or obtained pursuant to a legally proper discovery request or order in a civil action.

Also under the law, recorded data may be retrieved, obtained, and used by a subscription service provider if the subscription service agreement discloses that the data may be recorded, stored, and transmitted.

The law also prohibits the alteration or deletion of data on a recording device or the destruction of a recording device with the intent to prevent access to or destroy the recorded data after a crash resulting in bodily injury or death for a period of two years following the crash, and establishes a $5,000 civil penalty for a violation. The alteration or deletion of data by a recording device with an overwriting or rewriting program or function, which is activated during the vehicle's normal operation, would not be considered a knowing alteration or deletion and therefore not subject to the civil penalty.

Finally, the law establishes a rebuttable presumption that a vehicle recycler or scrap recycling facility has no knowledge of the involvement of a vehicle in a crash event that resulted in bodily injury or death.