Practically everyone is familiar with the Breathalyzer – a tool law enforcement uses to detect whether or not a driver has been drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel. (Michigan cops now use the Datamaster for this purpose instead of the Breathalyzer.) But with incidences of distracted driving on the rise across the country, some lawmakers are hoping to nip this problem in the bud by introducing legislation that allows officers to check if a person was using their phone right before a crash.
Enter the “Textalyzer.” Proposed legislation in New York state has introduced this rather radical idea to address the issue of distracted driving. A play on words from the Breathalyzer, the Textalyzer is actually software that N.Y. officers would have in their vehicles. This roadside test would allow them to see if someone had been active on their phone in the minutes before a crash.
The idea is that an officer arriving on the scene of a crash could ask for the driver’s phone, which they would then hook up to a device in their vehicle that would track the phone’s recent activity. This would allow officers to see if drivers had been using their phones directly before and during the time when the crash occurred.
In order to address the issues of privacy and Fourth Amendment rights, the software would not allow officers access to the content of emails, texts, messages or any other content on the phone. All it would allow the officer to do, is access the operating system to see whether or not there had been any activity on the phone during a certain window of time.
The company developing the software is Cellebrite, an Israeli company that specialized in data extraction and mobile phone forensics. Their mobile forensics division produces software and hardware used by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, along with intelligence agencies, several branches of the military branches, corporate security, private digital forensic examiners and even law firms in over sixty countries around the world.
While this may sound revolutionary and possibly even extreme to many drivers, the logic behind it is that desperate times call for desperate measures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people die every day in the United States, and over 1,153 are injured as a result of distracted driving accidents.
Mark Rosekind, chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says that while road fatalities had been on the slow decline for years, the introduction of cell phones has sadly changed that. Distracted driving, he says, is only increasing This can be seen in the dramatic spike in fatal crashes in recent years including every county in Michigan.
Although this legislation has not been signed into law in New York, and still has a long way to go, it is worth watching. Because while this is New York and not Michigan, all it takes is one state to have success with a radical new technology and suddenly everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. This means that this could easily be in Michigan’s future. If it results in fewer deaths on our highways, maybe the intrusion is worthwhile. At a minimum, the Textalyzer is expected to have a strong deterrent effect on those that text and drive.
If you or a loved one in Michigan have been accused of distracted driving or involved in a car crash that allegedly happened as a result of distracted driving, contact our defense lawyers right away. Our criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience defending drunk, drugged and distracted drivers here in Michigan. We can help you too.