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NY bill would allow law enforcement to use “Textalyzer” devices

Everybody knows that distracted driving is a significant problem nationwide, despite the obvious dangers this activity entails and efforts to educate the public the risks. Texting and driving, like other forms of addiction, is a hard habit to break, even if the potential harm is clear.

States have attempted various approaches to address the problem. One of the newer approaches lawmakers in several states are looking to try is the use of a device called the “Textalyzer.” The device allows law enforcement to plug drivers’ phones to be scanned for data on usage, which would help determine whether a driver was using a cell phone while driving at the time of an accident. 

New York lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would not only allow police officers to use Textalyzer devices, but which would impose punishments on drivers who refuse to submit to them, similar to the punishments drivers face for refusing to submit to alcohol testing. This includes license revocation and significant fines. The New York bill would only allow for Textalyzer use follow an accident, though the possibility of expanded use of the device isn’t unlikely.

Opponents of the devices say they could easily be used to violate drivers’ privacy rights and that it could result in drivers being punished for activities which did not contribute to accidents. Supporters argue the device will be a game-changer in fighting against distracted driving, an improvement over current methods for obtaining cell phone records, which require a search warrant or a subpoena in civil litigation. One possibility raised by the technology is using the results of these tests in civil litigation to support a finding of negligence.

Victims of distracted driving accidents, of course, have the right to be compensated by those who harm them. Presenting relevant, reliable evidence of liability is critical to building a strong case, and plaintiffs should work with an experienced personal injury attorney to make the fullest use of the legal process to obtain the evidence they need to build their case. 

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