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New bill may allow "textalyzer" use among police

Distracted driving resulted in 3,450 deaths in 2016 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is a widespread trend as well as an underreported one since drivers involved in a crash do not want to admit distractions to the police. In 2017, the New York legislature proposed a bill allowing for the use of "textalyzers" to find out if drivers were using their phone before a crash. That measure failed, but Nevada is considering one like it.

Textalyzers are devices made by the Israel-based company Cellebrite that scan for any phone activity. They have yet to undergo field testing and are not being used by any law enforcement agencies. If the Nevada bill passes, they will most likely be tested. However, controversy surrounds the measure.

First, there are privacy concerns. Textalyzer use may constitute an unreasonable search and seizure, which the Fourth Amendment protects against. Cellebrite states, though, that the device does not store or access personal content. Supporters say it is minimally invasive and so cannot be considered a violation.

Others are concerned that the bill does not introduce anything new. In particular, the bill requires police to obtain a warrant if drivers refuse to have their phones checked, yet police already have this ability. It may be better to simply let police use textalyzers after they obtain the warrant.

Auto accidents caused by distracted drivers can result in serious injuries, vehicle damage and other losses. What's worse is that distracted driving can be hard to prove. If victims believe they have good grounds for a claim, they may want legal assistance. Personal injury lawyers might have a network of professionals, including investigators and medical experts, whom they can hire in the effort to build up a case. Lawyers may also handle all settlement negotiations.

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