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Could the Textalyzer be in our future?

Although states are increasingly making the use of cellphones and other mobile devices illegal for drivers, the number of crashes in which cellphones were involved continues to rise. According to the National Safety Council, last year they were to blame for a quarter of all collisions in the country. This includes not just talking on the phone, but texting. The use of a handheld device to talk or text is illegal here in Connecticut.

While law enforcement officers may be able to determine if a driver was engaged in some forms of activity on a mobile device at the time of an accident, it isn't always clear if a person was texting, sending an e-mail or surfing the Internet at the precise time the collision occurred.

That could change with a device known as the "Textalyzer." It could be plugged into a phone to determine whether the phone was being used near the time a crash occurred. In New York, state legislators are currently considering a bill that would allow the use of Textalyzers without a warrant. Whether drivers could refuse to let their phones be analyzed is still an issue to be determined.

The Textalyzer, according to proponents of the law, wouldn't give police access to personal information on the phone. It only determines whether the phone was in use at a particular time. Nonetheless, privacy is likely to be a concern anywhere that legislators seek to legalize its use, opening the law to court challenges.

While the New York law is still nowhere near close to passing the legislature, let alone being signed by the governor, the Textalyzer, which has been compared to the Breathalyzer, could still be in our future. While it's both unsafe and illegal to be using a handheld device while driving, it's essential to know what your rights are before handing over your phone to police. It also may be possible to challenge any evidence that is being used against you.

Source: Fortune, "Forget the Breathalyzer, Meet the 'Textalyzer'," Don Reisinger, accessed Sep. 07, 2016

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