Proposed bill would allow police to use device that determines phone use before accidents

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Textalyzer can track your phone to determine if you were texting or scrolling on your phone before an accident.

The Textalyzer could soon become a new tool for law enforcement in New York State. But some people have major privacy concerns.

The bill to approve using the Textalyzer is going through committees in both the state senate and assembly. It was brought back into the public eye after a press conference at the Capitol earlier in the week.

But some said they won’t hand over their phones if it becomes law.

“It definitely makes sense because I feel like texting is a big cause of accidents,” Nicole Caranfa, of Albany, said.

“If it’s used correctly, it could be a useful tool to separate the innocent from the guilty,” Jim Coburn, of Glenville, said.

While people in the Capital Region said they can see the idea behind such a device, attorney Lee Kindlon said it will end up causing more problems than good.

“There are a lot of issues that are going to be at play if this thing gets passed,” he said.

For one, the penalty for refusing to submit to the tool would be losing your license for a year similar to a breathalyzer. But Kindlon said they’re very different situations.

A test for alcohol is needed right away, but cell phones are digital.

“It can be stored for months if not years,” Kindlon said.

Some said the device would be exploited.

“ ‘We kind of think you were texting, and so lets find out and here’s your ticket,’” Coburn said. “I’m not much for that.”

Kindlon said it could be seen as an invasion of privacy.

“A warrant is required by our Constitution for a very good reason,” he said.

Others said even if privacy is a concern, it’s for a worthy cause.

“Because if you’re looking at someone’s phone, you never know what you’re going to see but other than that I think it’s for a pretty good reason,” Caranfa said.

Saying it would definitely cut down on texting related accidents.

“It would make me not text and drive,” Caranfa said. “I mean, I don’t, but it would definitely help.”

But others are still not convinced.

“Will it be overused? Sure it will,” Coburn said. “You know that. Let’s face it. The government’s not to be trusted.”

Whether you agree or disagree with the device, it will be awhile before it becomes reality. The Textalyzer is still a prototype, and the bill has yet to make it to the floor in either house.

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