The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking for a $48,000 fine to be levied against a man who allegedly kept a phone jammer in his car.
The FCC said that it would be seeking to impose three counts of a $16,000 penalty against Florida resident Jason Humphreys for illegally operating a mobile phone jamming device and causing interference intentionally.
According to the FCC complaint (PDF), Humphreys kept the jammer in truck and activated during his daily commute in order to prevent other drivers from using their mobile devices behind the wheel. The result, say authorities, was the creation of interference along a length of Interstate 4 outside the city of Tampa as he traveled.
The interference caught the attention of Metro PCS network operators in Tampa who reported the issue to local FCC agents. In May of last year, Humphreys was stopped by Sheriff deputies who noted that the truck's jammer also interfered with their two-way radios.
The FCC notes that in addition to the intended effect of keeping other drivers off their phones, Humphreys also created a safety hazard by potentially crippling phone service for those trying to call emergency responders in the area. The commission noted that as mobile jammers interfere with radio communications, they are not certified for use by consumers and are all considered to be illegal to own and operate.
"Jammers are designed to impede authorized communications, thereby interfering with the rights of the general public and legitimate spectrum users," the FCC says in its complaint.
"They may also disrupt critical emergency communications between first responders, such as public safety, law enforcement, emergency medical, and emergency response personnel."
The case is not the first in which the FCC has come down on someone for the use of a mobile phone jammer. Earlier this year the FCC proposed a $29,000 fine against a manufacturing company who used a jamming device to keep workers from making calls while on the job and last August a New Jersey truck driver was arrested and slapped with a $32,000 fine for operating a mobile jammer in his vehicle. ®