Would you let cops give your phone a textalyzer scan after a road crash?

New York state mulls 'Evan's Law' to snare distracted drivers

Poll Drivers in New York may have their phones and gadgets scanned after crashes to see what they were doing moments before a prang.

Law bill SB S6325A, if passed, will allow police to check a driver's smartphone for activity when an accident occurs. Investigators could then determine whether or not a motorist was illegally using their phone while driving (which is already illegal in New York).

The bill's authors liken the tests to "breathalyzer" sobriety tests performed when a driver is suspected to have been drinking. Cops would be expected to carry out on-the-spot roadside textalyzer tests on mobiles after a smash. If you refuse to unlock and hand over your devices, you'll risk losing your license.

Also known as "Evan's Law," the bill is being backed by the family of Evan Lieberman, a 19-year-old who was killed in a crash with a distracted driver. Among those reported to be working on the scanning devices that police would use is digital forensics biz Cellebrite, which was loosely linked to the FBI's iPhone unlocking efforts in San Bernardino.

According to the bill, police would be able to use a handheld device to conduct "an electronic scan" of a phone at the scene of the accident to determine whether it was in use at the time of the crash, but would not be allowed to look at any stored data – just logs of activity.

"No such electronic scan shall include the content or origin of any communication, game conducted, image or electronic data viewed on a mobile telephone or a portable electronic device," the bill reads.

"The facts regarding distracted driving are startling," said SB S6325A author Senator Terrence Murphy.

"Every year, thousands of Americans are involved in an automobile accident as a result of distractions behind the wheel."

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Currently, the passage of SB S6325A is far from a sure thing. The bill is awaiting review from the Senate Finance Committee, which would need to approve and then pass the bill on for votes by both the state Senate and Assembly, at which point the bill would then be delivered to the governor to sign off.

What's odd is the cops could just ask the telcos if someone's phone was in use at a particular time. What else could they be looking for? ®

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