Texting While Driving; Textalyzer Legislation Proposed in New York
In Oklahoma, it is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle on any street or highway within this state while using a hand-held electronic communication device to manually compose, send or read an electronic text message while the motor vehicle is in motion. Texting While Driving has been prohibited in some fashion by almost all of the states, and the New York Congress is currently considering legislation that would allow police at accident scenes in New York to immediately examine drivers’ cellphones with a device to determine if they’d been tapping, swiping or clicking. It’s been termed the Breathalyzer for texting.
Ben Lieberman, a father who lost a son in a crash where the other driver was texting and proponent of the legislation, has partnered with an Israel-based tech company Cellebrite to develop the plug-in device that’s been nicknamed the “textalyzer”. 
Of note, Deborah Hersman, the CEO of the National Safety Council and a supporter of the “textalyzer” legislation, noted that in 2016, 40,000 people died on the road, a 14 percent jump from 2014 and the biggest two-year jump in 50 years.
Cellebrite said its technology sidesteps privacy concerns because it’s designed only to determine usage, not access data. Company officials said the device would only be able to tell if someone physically clicked or swiped the phone during the time of the accident, and then investigators could use that to determine if they should get a warrant for more detailed information.
We have discussed the Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless searches relating to stop-and-frisk, and breathalyzer testing in past posts. It would be interesting to see what restrictions would be put in the legislation in order to pass constitutional muster, if it is to pass constitutional muster at all. In all fifty states, an “implied consent” law exists when it comes to administering blood and breath tests, because states consider driving a privilege and not a right. Therefore, any change that would allow for such broad police power following a traffic accident, would be effected through the implied consent laws.
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