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"Textalyzer" Bill Proposed in New York

In an effort to impede texting while driving, several New York state lawmakers are making the push to demand drivers to hand over their phones to law enforcement after a motor vehicle accident. The bill would enable police to possess and use a device which connects into a phone and scans logs in order to determine if a driver was calling or texting when a crash occurred. In addition, if a driver refuses to relinquish their phones, their driver’s license would be suspended, similar to suspected drunk drivers who refuse to submit to BAC testing.

The bill is named “Evan’s Law” after Evan Lieberman, who passed away at the age of 19 from injuries he sustained after being involved in a head-on collision with another teenager five years ago. The other driver, Michael A. Fiddle, didn’t face criminal charges for the accident. However, Ben Lieberman, Evan’s father, sued Fiddle and found out that Fiddle had been using his cellphone while driving on that particular morning. Since the accident, Ben Lieberman has campaigned against people who text while driving, resulting in harsher punishments for distracted drivers and an increase in checkpoints with the help from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013.

If Evan’s Law is signed by Cuomo, the financial beneficiary from this is Cellebrite, a New Jersey company which possesses comprehensive experience in aiding police officers in cellphone scans and searches. Cellebrite marketing executive Jeremy Nazarian stated that the device would only check phone logs, which the metadata record that displays whether or not a text message was sent, as opposed to viewing the content of the message.

While “Evan’s Law” has been approved 16-to-2 by the state’s transportation committee last month, it appears the law will be challenged in court by privacy advocates. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement is required to have a warrant to search cellphones.

For more information about distracted driving, contact our Brooklyn personal injury attorney today.

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