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Textalyzer, traffic violations and New York: Three things to know

The Textalyzer may be the next big thing in traffic violation enforcement. Proponents of the device argue that its use will significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents in the state.

What is the Textalyzer?

The device received its nickname due to its similarity to the Breathalyzer. Like the breathalyzer, the device is used to conduct a test immediately following an accident. Unlike the breathalyzer, it will test the driver’s phone, not the driver. 

What do New Yorkers need to know about the Textalyzer?

New Yorkers can benefit from a basic understanding of the debate surrounding these devices. Here are three of the main topics at the moment:

  • Not yet in use. The device is not yet available for use. The developing company expects to release the product in the next few months.
  • Not yet legal. Even when the device is ready for use, it is not currently legal for police to use the device. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently tasked the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee with evaluation of the device to see if it would be beneficial for use by enforcement officers.
  • Potential for violation of constitutional privacy rights. This is one of the key areas the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee will review. Critics of the device point out that its use is a violation of a driver’s constitutional privacy protections. In light of these protections, current law generally only allows police to review a driver’s phone after obtaining a warrant. Use of the Textalyzer without a warrant will likely result in future legal challenges based on constitutional violations.

Why should New York drivers care about texting traffic violations?

Drivers in New York who are stopped for traffic violations and face allegations of using an electronic device face serious penalties if convicted. These penalties can include monetary fines and suspension of the driver’s license.

Defenses are available. Do not simply accept the charges and move on. Contact an attorney to discuss your options and better ensure your legal rights are protected.