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Texting While Driving Leading to Stricter Laws


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7/15/2016
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Legislators in New York are seeking to impose laws that will affect drivers who are in a motor vehicle accident and had a cell phone with them in the car.  This new law could potentially require them to turn their phones over to the police so that they may see whether the driver was texting at the time of the collision. A device would be plugged into the phone  (informally called "textalyzers") and would allow law enforcement officers to see a log showing the use of the phone.  This bill, "Evan's Law," was created by the father of a teenager who was killed in a car crash where the other driver was found to have been using his phone.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo supported tougher laws and penalties against distracted drivers, so he may be willing to support Evan's Law as well.  However, the law will likely meet resistance by those concerned with privacy laws as the Supreme Court has previously held that a search warrant is needed to search cell phones. The cell-phone device that would reach the data is already produced, but critics believe that this is unnecessary since cell-phone plans already keep logs that can and are subpoenaed so that the same information can be obtained about the use of the phone at the time of the accident.  The so-called "textalyzer" devices are being viewed as similar to breathalyzers to test for alcohol levels on the scene, but critics again argue that the situations are not the same because the phone data is not at risk of being lost and can just as easily be obtained at a later time, unlike blood alcohol levels.  If the bill is passed, other states may try to impose similar laws in attempts to protect against distracted driving.



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