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New device can check phones for texting, other actions

Law enforcement in Georgia will be better able to determine whether an accident was caused by a driver using a cellphone phone if the state adopts a new device called the textalyzer. Named because it is modeled on the Breathalyzer test, the textalyzer connects to a phone. With the tap of a button, the last activities will be displayed. The textalyzer can detect taps, swipes, open apps, and determine whether the use of the phone was hands-free. However, civil rights advocates have expressed concern that the device might violate a person's privacy.

Despite these concerns, lawmakers in Tennessee, Chicago, New Jersey, New York and other places have expressed interest in the device. Motor vehicle deaths are on the rise, and it is believed that phone distractions have contributed to that statistic.

It can be difficult for law enforcement to identify phone use as cause of a motor vehicle collision. A man who formed the advocacy group that has assisted in developing the device lost his 19-year-old son in an accident that involved a driver who was texting. The driver in that crash told police that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, and police could not check the driver's phone without a search warrant. After six months, the father obtained a subpoena to his phone records that showed the driver was texting.

Injured people who are not adequately compensated by insurance might wonder if they can be successful in a personal injury lawsuit against someone who was found not guilty after an accident. It is indeed possible, because the burden of proof is lower on the plaintiff in a civil case than on the prosecution in a criminal case.

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