Nevada residents should know that their state may become one of the first to allow police to use a device called a “textalyzer,” which can determine if a driver was distracted prior to a crash. The textalyzer connects to a phone and looks for any signs of user activity. It does not access or store personal content, but it can determine if users, for example, opened a Facebook messenger call screen.
The Nevada legislature introduced the proposal in March 2019. A similar measure was introduced by the New York legislature in 2017 but failed. New York is now considering another piece of legislation that would allow police to check a driver’s cellphone activity after a wreck while a separate measure would initiate a pilot program in Westchester County.
Concerns have been raised, such as by policy analysts at the American Civil Liberties Union, that the Nevada legislature’s proposal would violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
The first draft of the proposal would have punished drivers with a 90-day license suspension if they refused to have their phones checked. However, this penalty has been removed. In the current proposal, police would have to obtain a warrant upon drivers’ refusal. While a warrant may help obtain greater information than with the textalyzer, state laws vary on this procedure.
In the wake of an accident, victims will want to know if and how the other party was negligent. If accident investigations show that a driver was distracted by phone use, victims may have grounds for a personal injury claim. This is where legal counsel might be beneficial. The lawyer may have a network of professionals, including investigators and medical experts, to help strengthen the case as the lawyer handles negotiations.