There are ways to test for alcohol-impaired driving, but it is much more difficult to determine whether a driver has broken the law by texting behind the wheel. That may change soon.
Breathalyzers are used by police officers when alcohol impairment is suspected, either when a driver is operating their vehicle erratically, or at the scene of an accident, for example. The use of breathalyzers is widely accepted and allows police officers to crack down on drinking and driving – a deadly behavior.
And now, much like the breathalyzer, lawmakers in one state are proposing the introduction of a device that’s being dubbed the “textalyzer.” The device would allow police officers to scan drivers’ phones at accident scenes, in order to discover whether the driver was texting at the time the crash occurred.
Senate Bill S6325A – Enforcement of Texting Laws
The New York legislation, Senate Bill S6325A, would “provide for the field testing for use of mobile telephones and portable electronic devices while driving after an accident or collision.” According to proponents of the bill, the technology would not allow for access of drivers’ personal data.
The dangers of texting while driving are undisputed. Each year distracted driving (most distractions are caused by cellphone use) kills more than 3,000 people, and injuries hundreds of thousands more, according to Distraction.gov.
The potential benefits of the bill are obvious: it would allow police officers to verify a violation of the texting while driving ban, determine fault in an accident, and hopefully discourage texting and driving overall. If the legislation becomes law, it may have far-reaching effects, and might pave the way for similar legislation in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Opposition to Textalzyers
While the legislation may help to mitigate the dangerous problem of texting while driving, it is not without flaws. As pointed out by the New York Civil Liberties Union, and summarized by an article in Fox News, “The proposal appears likely to impute suspicion and guilt for a wide range of lawful activity, and to invite cops to seize phones without justification or a warrant.”
Textalyzers are being viewed by some as a potential source of breaches of privacy and violations of rights.
Accountability for Distracted Driving
The debate over whether a textalyzer would breach drivers’ constitutional rights is one that should be left to lawmakers and the courts. The being said, most agree that there needs to be more accountability for distracted driving, even if the method of accountability is not agreed upon. Accidents caused by texting are preventable, and drivers who engage in the dangerous behavior should be held responsible.
Textalyzers or not, there are other methods to determine whether a person was using a cellphone at the time of the accident, such as requesting permission from a court to access cellphone records.
If you have been in an accident that you believe was caused by a distracted driver, you have legal rights. The skilled North Carolina and South Carolina car accidents attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP can conduct the investigation your case deserves to determine why the accident occurred and who should be held liable. We can also assist you in filing your claim, proving damages, and negotiating for a fair settlement or pursuing a case in court.
To learn more about your options after a car accident involving a distracted driver, call us today or contact us using our online form.