Texting while driving has become one of the main contributing factors in
motor vehicle accidents in the United States. In order to fight the texting and driving epidemic,
one state (New York) is looking to use an innovative new way by using
a “textalyzer” device on cellphones.
What is a Textalyzer? How Would It Work?
Based on the “breathalyzer” test to determine a person’s
BAC, a textalyzer is a device that is currently under development that
would be used by police officers to determine whether a cellphone has
been used before a car accident occurred.
The device, in theory, would work as follows:
At the scene of the
car accident, police officers would determine if there is a reason to believe one or
more drivers involved were using their cellphones right before the collision.
- If the officer have reason to believe one or more drivers used their cellphones,
he or she would ask the drivers for their phones and use the textalyzer device.
- The device would tell the officer if the phone had been used recently,
as well as the app or program that was being used.
- The officer would determine if the individual(s) violated the state’s
ban on texting and driving and, if so, continue with his or her investigation.
- If the motorist refuses to hand over his or her phone to law enforcement,
his or her driver’s license would be suspended automatically.
Are Textalyzers Considered Lawful?
The legislation authorizing the use of textalyzers used by New York police
faces opposition from various fronts, mainly from privacy advocates. One
important question that has yet to be answered is: are textalyzers lawful to use?
In most cases, police officers must obtain a warrant from a judge prior
to accessing the contents of a suspect’s cellphone. To be effective,
textalyzer devices may need to scan every app and program on a suspect’s
cellphone, which privacy advocates argue violates a 2014 ruling from the
U.S. Supreme Court and could possibly tempt police officers to violate
motorist’s constitutional rights.
Proponents of the law, however, do not see any legal issues with the law
as written. Those who favor the use of a textalyzer point to statistics
which suggest that texting and driving is increasing in the U.S., despite
government efforts to stop the practice as evidence that more aggressive
tactics are required. Furthermore, the law would only impose civil penalties,
such as suspension of one’s driver’s license if a driver refuses
to turn over his or her cellphone after an accident.
If you have suffered a serious injury in an auto accident caused by a distracted
driver in Atlanta, GA,
contact The Weinstein Firm, LLC today.