"Textalyzer" v. Privacy

Posted on Apr 27, 2017
The dangers of text thing in driving are well-documented. Several studies conclude that the distraction text and causes is similar to alcohol related impairment. To attack the texting epidemic, some lawmakers and municipalities are looking at new technology that will enable law enforcement determine whether somebody was texting in driving.

A company called Cellebrate is developing a device known as a "textalyzer."  This device is still in development, but the concept is similar to a breathalyzer. An officer can plug the device into a driver’s smart phone to obtain information including screen taps, swipes, and telephone communications. The technology developer stressed that the device downloads no content from the smart phone, but simply documents its use.

Privacy advocates are concerned, claiming that police would have the authority to confiscate and search phones no matter the severity of the collision. Smart phones contain sensitive information, and on some levels will the concern is valid.

Submitting to a breathalyzer test is also considered a "search" under Oregon's State Constitution. However, Oregon law provides that a motorists impliedly consent to the breathalyzer test when using Oregon’s roads.  Driving is a privilege, not a right. Refusing a breathalyzer test has its legal consequences.

A similar statute may provide law enforcement the authority to test your phone.  Stay tuned.

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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