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The controversial legislation that allows officers to invade U.S. drivers’ phones after car accidents


The goal is to help to reduce the number of dangerous drivers on U.S. soil

A legislation is set to be passed in New York that will allow for police to access a driver’s cell phone data is said driver was involved in a traffic accident. As stated from the legislature, “Any person who operates a motor vehicle in the state shall be deemed to have given consent to field testing of his or her mobile telephone and/or personal electronic device for the purpose of determining the use thereof while operating a motor vehicle, provided that such testing is conducted by or at the direction of a police officer.”


Although, most U.S. states prohibit, by law, the use of mobile devices whilst driving, there is a lack of real effort to enforce the law and is only dealt with if a police officer catches an offender. When required, officers use a device called “textalyzers” by which mobile phones are subsequently plugged into. Information about what a driver was doing on the phone, and more importantly when they were doing it are revealed. If for example, the driver was revealed to be texting whilst driving around the time of the accident (essentially exposing the driver as liable) then the legal system will have grounds to fine the offender.


Rights activist Rashida Richardson (of the New York Civil Liberties Union) argues against the legislation (which is also set to be adopted in Tennessee and New Jersey), “This is a concern because our phones have some of our most personal and private information – so we’re certain that if this law is enforced as it is proposed, it will not only violate people’s privacy rights, but also civil liberties.”


Callum Lawrence

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