We all know that texting (surfing, Facebooking, Googling…) while driving is dangerous, and inevitably those who do so are going to get in accidents. Holding someone who has been in an accident while engaging in such behavior accountable makes sense, but…
As laudable as the goal of busting someone who got in a wreck while looking at YouTube videos may be, does the government have the right to seize and search every mobile device held by those in accidents? Do they need a warrant?
Video Embedded: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pvszY6y2mU&feature=youtu.be
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Providence Journal video by Steve Szydlowski
A proposed new statute would call for any driver in an accident to surrender “any mobile device in their possession at or near the time of the collision.”The device would then be analyzed for evidence of use.
A universal rule subjecting drivers to warrantless search and seizure in an accident represents a departure from what has been the norm. We all know that drinking and driving is dangerous, but the cops ask for a breathalyzer only when they observe behavior that warrants a field sobriety test. There are states (including Connecticut) that have enacted mandatory breathalyzer statutes for serious and deadly accidents, but the texting statute in New York is much broader in that it applies in any crash.