Move over Breathalyzer: New police tool for traffic stops is unveiled

Move over Breathalyzer: New police tool for traffic stops is unveiled
Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock

We’re all familiar with the Breathalyzer, the brand name for a roadside device that measures a suspected drunken driver’s blood-alcohol level. It has been in use for decades. Now there’s a so-called “textalyzer” device to help the authorities determine whether someone involved in a motor vehicle accident was unlawfully driving while distracted.

The roadside technology is being developed by Cellebrite, the Israeli firm that many believe assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in cracking the iPhone at the center of a heated decryption battle with Apple.

Under the first-of-its-kind legislation proposed in New York, drivers involved in accidents would have to submit their phone to roadside testing from a textalyzer to determine whether the driver was using a mobile phone ahead of a crash. In a bid to get around the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the textalyzer allegedly would keep conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data private. It will solely say whether the phone was in use prior to a motor-vehicle mishap. Further analysis, which might require a warrant, could be necessary to determine whether such usage was via hands-free dashboard technology and to confirm the original finding.

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