The New York State Legislature is considering the passage of a bill that will allow police departments to use a device called a textalyzer to determine if an accident was caused by a distracted driver who was talking or texting on the phone when the accident occurred. The proposed law is called Evan’s Law, named after Evan Lieberman, a 19 year old who was killed in 2011 by a suspected distracted driver. At the time, New York police could not legally look at an at-fault driver’s cell phone to see if they were texting while driving, or looking at the internet, or sending SnapChats.
Texting While Driving in New York
Today, an Israeli company is developing a “textalyzer,” a device that allows police to look at what time a driver sent or received a text, but cannot read the text or view any photos sent. Every driver can tell you stories of other drivers who are texting while driving, looking down at GPS instead of eyes on the road, watching YouTube videos, answering email, or surfing through dating sites. The textalyzer will not be able to detect all these forms of distraction, but if approved, will capture the major offenses like texting.
According to the CDC, almost 8 people are killed and over 1,100 injured EVERY DAY in the United States by drivers who looked up too late and ran through a red light, or rear-ended the car in front. The worst type of distracted driving is DUI, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI arrests have experienced a sharp downturn over the last 20 years because of services like Uber and Lyft, better education about the danger of drunk driving, stricter penalties for underage DUI, and more costly legal consequences for all drivers.
Under current state laws, an at-fault driver’s phone records cannot be subpoenaed and admitted as evidence for the prosecution, because it has been argued that it is too hard to prove that just because someone was texting while driving, this does not prove that texting caused the accident. With the new textalyzer, prosecutors may be more empowered to prove just that. New York officials are hoping that Evan’s Law will scare potential distracted drivers into putting down their phones until they are out of the car.
If you were involved in an accident with a distracted driver, call one of our criminal attorneys in your area and they will explain how these cases can be won.