Drunk driving has the breathalyzer and soon distracted driving may have the textalyzer, a device that allows police to measure phone use of those involved in car accidents. The device has not been perfected and is only now being considered by New York lawmakers.
The textalyzer will help police determine whether to proceed with a criminal case after analysis of pre-accident phone use. The device's creation was inspired by 19-year-old Evan Lieberman who died in a car crash with a distracted driver, reports the American Bar Association Journal. The law under consideration in New York, Evan's Law, is reportedly the first of its kind in the country.
Distracted driving is on the rise and it is unlikely to go away as more people become more reliant on technology. But distracted driving is difficult to assess -- unlike blood alcohol content, there is not (yet) a way to physically measure how much texting and phone use happened before an accident.
What the textalyzer does is allow police officers to analyze cell phone activity of drivers who have been in an accident. This will enable police to determine whether there is a criminal case to pursue based on distracted driving.
The device is the brainchild of Evan Lieberman's parents, who learned after their son was killed in an accident that authorities had no tools to discover or prove distracted driving. The family reportedly pursued its own investigation and learned that -- although the other driver said he fell asleep at the wheel -- his phone showed heavy use.
There was extensive phone activity but the Lieberman family also discovered that police could not have known. "What we learned was that police were not to blame," Evan's father Ben Lieberman said. "There is no protocol for police to investigate at the scene of the accident."
The bill is currently before the New York Senate Transportation Committee. If it is finally approved, drivers will be deemed to have given implied consent to taking a "textalyzer" in case of an accident. What that means is that by requesting a license to drive you have also agrees to be tested in case of an accident. Like in DUI/DWI cases, refusal to take the test will lead to a suspension or loss of driving privileges.
For those concerned about privacy, it should be noted that the proposed textalyzer would not examine driver content. Rather, it looks to frequency of phone use and not what is discussed while driving.
If you have been accused of drunk or distracted driving or any other crime, speak to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your case.