Device helps officers check cellphones for distracted driving

West Virginia readers understand that texting while driving is dangerous. In order to reduce the risk of accidents, Nevada legislators are considering a bill that allows authorities to use technology that tests a driver's cellphone to see if he or she was texting just before a car accident. New York lawmakers failed to pass a similar bill in 2017.

Under the proposed Nevada law, police officers could use a device called a "textalyzer" to scan someone's cellphone and identify certain actions, including the use of texting and social media apps. However, the device, which was created by tech company Cellebrite, cannot obtain or store a cellphone user's personal data. Proponents of the bill say the device could give authorities an important tool to combat cellphone-based distracted driving, an offense that has been on the rise in recent years.

Meanwhile, opponents of the bill say that the device could violate a driver's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union has voiced concerns about the device's potential ability to access the personal data of drivers. As the bill is currently written, officers would be required to obtain a warrant to scan a cellphone if the driver refuses to consent to the search.

According to Cellebrite, the "textalyzer" has not yet been field tested by police officers in any country. However, the Israeli company says Nevada law enforcement agencies could finally test the device in real-world conditions if the proposed law passes.

Distracted driving car accidents cause thousands of serious injuries across the country every year. Victims of texting and driving crashes might be owed compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. An attorney may be able to help a victim prepare a personal injury claim and work to negotiate a fair settlement.

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