Some may find people using their cellphones while driving to be annoying and dangerous, but one Florida man learned that you shouldn’t take matters into your own hands. It cost him $48,000.
According to a court documents filed by the Federal Communications Commission, Jason R. Humphreys has been fined $48,000 by the FCC for using a cellphone jammer during his daily commute between Seffner and Tampa, Fla.
Suspicions arose on April 29, 2013, when Metro PCS filed a complaint with the FCC after its cellphone tower sites began experiencing interference during the morning and evening commutes in Tampa, Fla., as outlined by the court documents. Based on time and location, the FCC came to the conclusion that the interference was mobile and taking place on Interstate 4 between downtown Tampa and Seffner, Fla.
The FCC’s Tampa office began an investigation on May 7, 2013, by monitoring the suspected route. After using a direction-finding technique, they determined that strong wideband emissions were coming from a blue Toyota Highlander SUV.
On May 9, 2013 the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office stopped the SUV. The FCC documents detailed how during the stop, deputies noticed that communications with dispatch over their two-way radios had been interrupted. The driver, Humphreys, confessed to owning and operating a cellphone jammer for the past 16 to 24 months. Humphreys told deputies that he had been using the jammer to keep people from talking on their phones while driving.
The following day, May 10, 2013, Metro PCS confirmed that their cell towers had stopped experiencing interference. One month later, FCC agents confirmed that the device confiscated from Humphreys was capable of jamming cellular and PCS communications.
The FCC charged Humphreys with three counts of illegal signal jamming; one for each of the three days he was monitored. Each violation carries a maximum penalty of $16,000. The FCC chose to impose the maximum fine on each count, totaling to $48,000. According to the court document, the FCC considered “the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violations” when determining the amount. The document noted the safety issues involved with signal jammers as it pertains to law enforcement communications. The FCC called Humphrey’s actions “egregious.”
As noted in the court document, cell and other signal jammers are illegal in the United States. Despite the wide availability and easy access of such devices on the Internet, operating a signal jammer will result in a fine imposed by the FCC. Although it is not necessarily illegal to possess a signal jammer, it is illegal to operate, import, advertise, sell or ship such a device. Operating a cell phone jammer impedes public safety, as it prevents citizens and emergency personnel from making 911 or other emergency calls, the FCC stated in their court document.
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