Texting while driving is steadily becoming as much of a danger as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some recent studies have indicated the problem has grown even worse than DUI. Every state now has distracted driving or cell phone use laws with severe costs and consequences. Although the main issue with texting and driving laws, is that it can be more difficult to prove in court than a DUI offense. A mobile security company named Cellebrite which is based in Israel, has made a device that lets police monitor cell phone usage in real-time. However now the company has created a new device, that can scan a person’s phone after they are stopped by police. Therefore this new technology will be able to inform an officer precisely when a driver was texting or talking on their phone last.
A proposed new distracted driving law in New York State will let law enforcement officers carry these new devices in patrol cars. This would then give police the legal authorization to scan a driver’s phone after getting pulled over or if an accident happened, when texting while driving is suspected . This new piece of technology has been given the name Textalyzer, which is a loose reference to the blood alcohol content (BAC) Breathalyzer machine used on DUI and DWI suspects. However, it is also important to note the Textalyzer device does not read the specific data on an individual’s phone. It only tells the police officer if or when a driver had last sent a text or used their phone. Under the current law, if the police want to access what is on a driver’s cell phone, they will still need a warrant to be able to search what content is on the mobile device.
How this new law will work if it passes, it would make the privilege of driving a vehicle in New York, automatically imply consent to having the new scan test done on a driver’s phone. The new law is being setup to function very much like the same way refusing to take a breath test can result in serious penalties for a person arrested for DUI charges. So if a driver chooses to refuse the Textalyzer scan on their phone after a police stop, the refusal would come with it’s own mandatory set of fines and penalties for the offense.
The bill is currently going through senate and assembly committees. If this law passes, it will require all drivers that were involved in an accident to let law enforcement officials scan their mobile phone for evidence of recent texts or handheld use. In addition to the expensive fines, the punishment will also include a driver having a suspended license much a like a DUI conviction, when a driver decides to refuse the police scanning their phone.
Most legal experts agree that if this pending new Textalyzer law becomes official in New York, drivers can expect similar rulings to happen soon afterwards throughout every state of the country. Since proving texting and driving is very difficult in court without hard evidence, particularly if a driver is already involved in an accident, this device may end up being an essential tool for police officers very soon. Additionally, it can be a helpful deterrent when a driver realizes they can face serious legal consequences if they are now caught after the fact, even when police didn’t catch them in the act using the phone. This potential ruling could play a major role in reducing distracted driving accidents with phones, which increases the safety factor of everyone sharing the road.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.