Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Textalyzer: the Breathalyzer for cellphones

You're stuck at a red light, several cars back when you realize you forgot to remind your significant other about your dinner reservations. No problem, just whip out your cell and shoot him or her a quick text. It's no big deal, lots of people do it.

A horn blares just as you're about to hit send. You react, press the gas pedal, and move forward only to realize that not only wasn't the honk aimed at you, traffic in front of you hasn't started moving! Can you stop in time to avoid the car in front of you?

In many states, including New York, that one text would be illegal and could lead to steep penalties including points on your license, fines, and license suspension. If you cause an accident because you were driving distracted, including using your cell phone, penalties could be even more severe. 

With thousands of deaths attributed to distracted driving every year, law enforcement and safety officials are seeking new ways put an end to it. From Distracted Driving Awareness Month to new technology, drivers are going to feel more pressure to keep off their phones while driving.

Currently, proving that a driver was using a mobile device prior to an accident can be difficult unless law enforcement officers witnessed the usage or could infer usage based on certain criteria. Technological advancements are looking to significantly impact this. A new gadget could allow law enforcement to test a driver's phone to see if it was in use prior to or during an accident. This "textalyzer" would function much like a Breathalyzer tests the blood-alcohol level of a driver.

However, like the Breathalyzer, there are already several concerns being raised about this new technology. From legitimacy of the data to the potential for invasion of privacy, lawmakers have a lot to consider but in the name of putting an end to distracted driving, it appears that the changes are coming.

In New York, legislation is already being considered that would mean altering current laws regarding distracted driving to give law enforcement officials a little more leeway.

If you have been cited for distracted driving, it is in your best interest to retain an attorney who understands the current laws. Facing fines and license suspension can be overwhelming and frustrating but you don't have to do it alone.

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