Is a textalyzer coming to NJ?
New York is looking into a device known as a 'textalyzer' and it brings up the question of whether New Jersey should follow suit. NBC New York describes the device as technology that police can plug into your cell phone to search and timestamp text messages, emails, websites, etc. after a crash. It's being called the breathalyzer of distracted driving.
Gov. Chris Cuomo has announced he'd direct the state's Traffic Safety Committee to look into the device. It is still in development by Cellebrite, an Israel-based tech firm. The moment it is up and running, I imagine many states will be clamoring for this. Should New Jersey be one?
Alexander Shalom of the ACLU in NJ told NJ.com that the textalyzer “invasive and unconstitutional." He adds it “addresses a real and significant problem. But it is an invasive search into a person’s life without a warrant. You can always go to a judge with probable cause… to issue a search warrant.”
The NJ.com article goes on to report there were more than 1,600 car crashes due to cell phone distraction in 2015. Has driver distraction gotten to the point that we would accept a roadside textalyzer plugged into our phones after a crash?
I say no. If they want to use this only after an accident, I say get a warrant. Otherwise this will lead to an expansion of the program down the line to routine use of textalyzers for almost any traffic stop. An officer will claim he had reason to believe the violation may have been caused by phone distraction and out comes the device. If textalyzers are ever to be used by law enforcement, let them be limited to use only after a legitimate warrant has been issued and not moments after a crash on the side of the road. It can only lead to bad things.