Anyone involved in a car crash in New York may soon have to submit a cellphone to police at the scene to determine if the driver was texting before the accident.
A law proposed by state senator Terrence Murphy and assemblyman Felix Ortiz would give police permission to search any phone or portable device at the scene of an accident. Cellebrite, an Israeli company that helps law enforcement crack smartphones, is marketing a device it’s calling a “textalyzer” that would analyze a driver’s phone.
The bill reads in part: “Any person who operates a motor vehicle in this state shall be deemed to have given consent to field testing of his or her mobile telephone and/or portable electronic device for the purpose of determining the use thereof while operating a motor vehicle provided that such testing is conducted by or at the direction of a police officer, after such person has operated a motor vehicle involved in an accident or collision involving damage to real or personal property, personal injury or death.”
The proposed law says that any refusal to comply with a police officer demanding to search an accident victim’s cellphone at the scene will lose his or her driver’s license, even if that person is not found to be at fault in the accident. The law would also suspend “non-resident operating privilege” – the right of drivers with non-New York licenses to drive their cars in the state.
The bill was announced in collaboration with activist group Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (Dorcs), a group founded by parents of children involved in crashes caused by drivers distracted by their devices. If the legislation is passed, it will be called Evan’s Law, after Dorcs co-founder Ben Lieberman’s 19-year-old son, who was killed in a car accident in 2011 that was caused by a distracted driver.