Police departments around the country use a breathalyzer to determine the blood alcohol levels of drivers, so why not a device that scans your iPhone for recent text messages that could have been the cause of an accident; a message, incoming or outgoing, which led to driver distraction, which led to an accident?
Judge Judy, Meet iPhone
Laws vary state-by-state, but many give the police authority to administer a breathalyzer test at the scene of an accident if there is suspicion of alcohol being involved. Some states may allow a driver to avoid the test, but then it often becomes an issue of guilty until proven innocent.
Texting while driving, like drinking and driving, is a very bad idea, and even laws against such behavior– texting or drinking– don’t seem to be much of a deterrent to stubborn humanity. The proposed law here in New York would give police the authority to scan a mobile device to check for text or communication near the time of an accident.
Sounds good, right?
Refuse to hand over your phone and your license gets revoked.
What could go wrong? Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps rights to privacy? 5th amendment rights? Not to mention laws may work against the technology?
If your iPhone has a lengthy password or Touch ID fingerprint reader, are you compelled to give the password or unlock the iPhone upon request? Surely authorities can get similar information from the cellphone company, but on-the-scene and in the heat of the moment promises to be more productive and efficient. And, potentially more damaging.
Distracted driving isn’t much different than being impaired by alcohol, so similar rules may apply.
How will authorities be able to determine whether a text message or phone call contributed to an accident? Is there a device that can be plugged into an iPhone and then suck out all the pertinent and potentially incriminating evidence? What rights does the iPhone-owning driver have?
A textalyzer is little more than a modern technology equivalent of the breathalyzer, but because iPhones are involved, other issues are raised that also need answers.