Law enforcement officers have already participated in efforts to reduce distracted driving in the state of Nevada. Now, a new legislative proposal hopes to take these efforts a step further by providing cops with technology that could hold distracted drivers using phones accountable. The proposed technology comes in the form of a device called the “textalyzer”, which connects to cell phones to track user activity, such as whether or not someone opened a text message or app.
This proposal could make it easier to hold distracted drivers accountable after a crash. Today, drivers can simply lie about using their phone to avoid the punishment associated with doing so. Since it is often difficult to prove otherwise, many distracted drivers slip through the cracks and face no consequences. Police Chief Steven Casstevens builds upon this point, saying that “if you’re the at-fault driver and you cause the crash because you’re talking on your cell phone, you’re likely not to admit it.”
The manufacturer of the textalyzer, the Israel-based company Cellebrite, says that the technology does not access or store personal content, but critics have still expressed concerns that it is a violation of privacy. Some go as far to say that the gadget violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of a person’s property.
If the proposal is passed, police officers will be required to obtain a search warrant to use the textalyzer if a driver refuses access to their phone. Obtaining a warrant to search a driver’s phone is something that law enforcement officers can already do, but is not universally practiced. By providing police with this technology, seizing and searching cell phones could become a more commonplace method of obtaining information pertaining to a car crash.
Right now, the future of this controversial proposal remains unclear. At a minimum, however, it is helping to facilitate conversations about how to best reduce distracted driving in the state of Nevada.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.