With the rise of texting and mobile internet usage, accidents caused by distracted drivers have been on a meteoric rise in recent years. Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of traffic accidents, and reports have shown that drivers see distracted driving as one of the biggest threats on U.S. roadways. In response to this rising threat, Nevada lawmakers recently proposed a law which would allow police investigating traffic accidents to determine if any involved drivers were texting at the time of the accident. The law, if passed, could have serious implications for both criminal investigations and personal injury lawsuits following car crashes by making it easier to determine if someone was illegally and dangerously using their phone while driving prior to an accident. Continue reading for details about the proposed law, and contact an experienced Henderson auto accident attorney with any questions.
Nevada proposes law allowing police to determine if driver was texting at the time of the accident, without getting a warrant
Nevada law currently prohibits the use of any handheld wireless communications device (like a cell phone) while driving, with certain exceptions for hands-free communication (i.e., talk-to-text) and for people who are specifically authorized to use those devices. Under the terms of a new proposed law, AB 200, police investigating a traffic accident would be authorized to use technology at the scene of an accident to determine if the driver was using their cell phone at the time of an accident.
The bill would allow police to use a device known as a “textalyzer,” made by Israel-based company Cellebrite, to connect to the cell phone of a driver. The device looks for user activity, such as texting or opening a Facebook messenger call screen. The company claims that the technology does not access or store personal content and merely reports user activity. The device has not been tested in the field and is not currently being used by law enforcement, but it would be tested in the field if the law passes. The bill would punish drivers who refuse to hand over their phones for inspection following an accident by suspending their driver’s license for 90 days.
Whether the law will pass remains unclear. New York legislators introduced a similar bill in 2017, and it failed to pass. Opponents of the law see the move as an invasion of privacy and a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, particularly if any personal content is accessed, and note that police already collect this information in the course of an investigation through the use of a warrant. One lawmaker already proposed an amendment which would withdraw the 90-day penalty and instead require a warrant if the driver refuses to consent, raising the question as to what purpose the new technology would actually serve.
If you need help getting compensation after a Nevada accident involving a distracted driver, contact a skilled and dedicated Henderson personal injury lawyer at the David Boehrer Law Firm for a no-cost consultation at 702-750-0750.