New York: “Bill Would Let Cops ‘Field Test’ Your Phone After an Accident”

“All you really need to know about New York Senate Bill S6325A is that it would create a law named after a person (this one would be ‘Evan’s Law’), since any law named after a person is almost always a terrible idea. (See, e.g., ‘Caylee’s Law,’ a terrible idea in 2011.) If the law were a good idea, they wouldn’t need to try to generate support by manipulating people’s emotions.” But the law — which would empower police to demand inspection of your cellphone after any auto collision, for the stated purpose of seeing whether the recent use of it had distracted you, and would provide for automatic license suspension if you refused — is in fact a very bad idea. [Lowering the Bar]


  • “to determine whether or not the [driver] was using a mobile telephone or a portable electronic device [while driving, which is already illegal].”

    Actually the use of “hands free” cell phones while driving is quite legal in NYS. Bluetooth, speaker, and earbuds meet that requirement. Would the police be able to determine this or would it be guilty until proven innocent?

  • What is my phone as determined by this bill? Is the Nokia 5110 that is in the cup holder nearest the driver’s seat my phone that I have to turn over to be scanned? (Yes, I really have a twelve year old phone in my vehicle) Or will they scan the iPhone I normally have hooked to the stereo reading an audiobook? Given the chance, I would drop the iPhone in my totebag and turn over the Nokia.

    Or anyone else could have a burner phone to turn over in case of such circumstances. Use the burner phone to call 911 after the accident.

  • Ph co records shld be able to yell you if/when a ph was texting. no?

  • So there would be my official phone……and my burner phone.

  • It also *should* be legal to use hand devices as maps– a lot less awkward than real maps. If one wanted to use that defense, however, it would mean allowing them to rummage in one’s phone.

  • I don’t have a cel phone. Is that a violation of the law?


    • Assuming yesterday qualifies as “soon”, I’m not sure it does.

  • It’s my understanding that all the bill does is require the driver to hand over his phone to allow the police to use a device to scan the phone and see if it was used to text right before the accident. It does not allow the police to read content on the phone, it only checks if the phone was used to send or open a text.

  • “see if it was used to text right before the accident”

    The article says “usage”. I didn’t see where it was limited to “text”.

  • And what would prevent the police from investigating everything on the phone once it was in their hands?

  • […] people involved in traffic accidents, too” [@reuvenim on the proposed New York law discussed here] “In a bid to get around the Fourth Amendment right to privacy, the textalyzer allegedly […]