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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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New device could detect a driver's text messages, activities

If you've been accused of texting behind the wheel, then this new tool might be of interest to you. Nicknamed the textalyzer, the technology has been created to determine if a person has been using his or her phone illegally while driving. Now, there could be proof that you were paying attention instead of having allegations thrown at you.

The tool would allow the police to crack phones, opening the programs to see if someone had sent or received texts recently. Lawmakers in New York, one of the cities considering the devices, say that too many people text and drive without facing penalties for doing so.

Presently, the police need to have probable cause to search cellphones. In New York, getting a warrant to search phone records is a timely process. It requires the district attorney and judge to come together before the warrant is issued.

So, what would an officer have to do with the new device? He or she would need to connect a cable to the phone and start the program. The program would show the last few activities performed including time stamps. The user never even has to put the phone down to complete this, but some believe it's a massive invasion of privacy. With so much private information on phones and similar devices, using the device could be a violation of a person's civil liberties.

This device is not yet approved for use by police, but if it is, it could result in better information on what caused an accident. This could help support your claims that you were focused at the time of a crash.

Source: NPR, "'Textalyzer' Aims To Curb Distracted Driving, But What About Privacy?," David Schaper, April 27, 2017

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