Kline Legal Group P.L.C.

State proposes "textalyzer" use among police, concerns remain

Michigan residents may have heard about a device called the "textalyzer," which is meant to determine whether someone was using their phone prior to a crash. Back in 2017, the New York legislature proposed a measure allowing its use among police officers, but the measure failed. Now, the Nevada legislature has proposed a similar measure.

There are privacy concerns, however, as many people believe that the textalyzer would violate the Fourth Amendment. This protects against unreasonable search and seizure. However, the maker of the textalyzer, the Israel-based company Cellebrite, has stated that the device only checks for user activity without accessing or storing personal content.

On the other hand, others believe the measure is not necessary because police already have the ability to obtain search warrants to check people's phones. The bill originally intended that drivers would have their license suspended for 90 days if they refused to have their phones checked, but this has since been revised.

A total of 3,450 people died in distraction-related car crashes in 2016 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 14 percent of these crashes involved cellphones. Numbers may be higher since drivers can lie to the police about their activities prior to a crash. Textalyzer advocates say that the lack of a social stigma leads people to think distracted driving is fine.

Anything from eating and drinking to talking with a passenger can constitute a distraction. When distracted driving is behind a car accident, those who are injured may want to see a lawyer about filing a claim. The lawyer may evaluate the case under Michigan's comparative negligence, determine how much victims might be eligible for and then negotiate for a fair settlement with the defendant's auto insurance company. As a last resort, victims may take the case to court.

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