A Florida Resident Drove Around with a Cellphone Jammer for Two Years Before Being Caught
Many states have banned talking on your cellphone while driving, but Florida is not one of them. So 60-year-old vigilante Jason R. Humphreys took matters into his own hands.
As The Tampa Tribune reports, Humphreys brought a cellphone jammer along on his commute every day for two years. You know, to ensure that his fellow commuters remained focused on the road. Until two local sheriff’s deputies caught him in the act and slapped him with $48,000 worth of fines, which he must pay or otherwise respond to within a month.
It turns out that Humphreys would have gone undetected if it hadn’t been for a local carrier noticing that something was messing with its towers. MetroPCS (which is owned by T-Mobile) notified the Federal Communications Commission that there was a peculiar outage on a certain patch of the Interstate 4 highway and downtown Tampa exactly a year ago. The FCC looked into it and discovered that wideband emissions — broadcast activity with wide frequencies or wavelengths — were emanating from a blue Toyota Highlander.
Still, Humphreys kept on jamming for another year until two county sheriff deputies pulled him over. They were able to confirm his use of the cellphone jammer before they even searched his vehicle and found it behind a seat cover. As they approached his SUV, their two-way radios were disconnected from their dispatcher.
How exactly can a cellphone jammer shut down service on an entire stretch of the highway? Your mobile phone works by connecting with the service network you pay for via cell towers. They’re scattered everywhere, so that your phone’s signal (or lack thereof) switches from tower to tower as you move about.
Jammers interrupt service by transmitting a signal on the same frequency that it collides with your cell phone’s signal and the two cancel each other out. Most modern cellphones are engineered to automatically add power if they experience any sort of low-frequency interference. But when it comes to the strength of whatever was coming from Humphrey’s device, none of them stood a chance.