NY lawmakers consider 'textalyzer' device to bust distracted drivers

April 30, 2019 06:36 AM

ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York state lawmakers are trying to solve a controversial issue that affects anyone who gets in a car.

The Legislature could soon pass the "textalyzer" law. If you get in a crash, police would be able to use a device to pull information from your phone to determine if you were using it at the time of the accident.


Even though most states ban texting and driving, supporters of "textalyzers" say current distracted driving laws are nearly impossible to enforce.

One of the main players in this debate is Ben Lieberman. His son was killed by someone using a phone while behind the wheel. He spoke with News10NBC's affiliate in Albany, WNYT.

"What we did is meticulously study the issue, where we could jump through hoops to respect privacy to respect privacy, to respect constitutionality. And to do this where you could balance public safety and privacy, and it's a tough balance, but I think we've hit the sweet spot," said Lieberman.

Sen. Shelley Mayer, a Democrat from Westchester County, is pushing for a pilot program for the device downstate.

"Even people who are texting and using Facebook while driving, they know it really is a danger," she told WNYT.

If signed into law, police would not be able to access your texts, pictures, or contacts, but critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, argue officers shouldn't be able to use the "textalyzer" without a warrant.

The bill is still in committee. 


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