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Beware The ‘Textalyzer’ In New York


Distracted or impaired driving comes in several forms these days.

A person can be impaired by alcohol, drugs or lack of sleep. A driver can be distracted by modern technology such as smartphones and tablets. Law-enforcement officers have some tools at their disposal to check for impaired driving, such as field tests, breathalyzers and blood tests. The unfortunate thing is, they don’t always have the right or best tools to check for distracted driving, other than hoping that a driver feels guilty enough, to tell the truth, and confess to having used his or her electronic device while driving.

However, as modern technology has continued to expand and grow, people have become more and more attached to their devices and thus the amount of distracted driving that is occurring in the U.S. has continued to grow to where it is every bit a safety hazard as impaired driving.

Confirming a distracted driver can be much more difficult than an impaired driver, though thanks to an Israeli startup tech company, that challenge is being addressed, and New York state wants to be on the front edge of the new technology.

We all know about the breathalyzer. Thanks to Cellebrite, we can soon say hello to the textalyzer.

This device, according to Cellebrite, does not gather data from a driver’s phone but instead can check for any taps or swipes (activity) on the phone (hands-on and hands-free) and have timestamps recorded to determine if the phone was used in the moments prior to an accident. It may record what apps were in use, but any messages or data that would be personal to the user would not be captured.

In New York state, a bill is being sent to the legislature that would permit law-enforcement officers to conduct a textalyzer field test with a driver’s phone to check for activity, and it provides stiff penalties to those drivers who refuse to allow the field test. Results of the test and any refusal can be admitted as evidence in a trial or hearing.

Opponents of the bill say they have concerns about privacy, due process and unlawful searches in these cases if the bill is worded too aggressively. The point of the bill, however, is to help stem the tide of distracted-driving deaths, which total more than 10, 000 in a single year.

If you are involved in an accident, even if sober, you may have to watch out for a textalyzer test by a police officer, as this type of bill is being considered in several other states besides New York. Whether you were distracted while driving prior to the accident or not, a good accident attorney will be a productive investment to protect and defend your rights against unlawful searches and for your due process.

Just because you may have texted and been distracted doesn’t mean you erode your rights.

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