Nevada bill would allow police to search cell phones after a car crash

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If you’re using your cellphone and get into a crash in Nevada, a new bill — if it becomes law — would allow police to check your phone.

Assembly Bill 200 would allow police officers to ask you if you were on your phone and give them the ability to plug a device into it to determine whether or not that’s actually the case.

Think of this like a breathalyzer for someone suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. The device is similar to the ‘textalyzer’ app tested across New York State. 

The bill would allow for officers to confiscate a driver’s license and suspend it for 90 days, if they are unwilling to let police check their phone.

The traffic safety bill is generating a lot of debate.

Should police officers be allowed to check your phone after a crash to see if you were using it while driving?

“I think it’s acceptable, texting and driving tends to be one of the leading causes of accidents, and it’s very irresponsible for people to do be doing that behind the wheel,” said Nathalie Martinez who supports the bill.

But Niyla Flournoy feels differently. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, because I just think that’s an invasion of privacy, and I don’t think that’s going to go very well.”

“I think it will make a lot of drivers more responsible about what they’re doing and I think that if that’s something they could like possibly threaten, then they would almost never go on their phones,” said Eric Szukiewicz who supports bill AB200.

The crux of the bill is that trained officers can use a special device that looks for data as to whether or not the phone was in use at or around the time of the crash. It would not allow other data to be accessed on the phone.

“We have a law in the state of Nevada that says you’re not allowed to have a telephone in your hand while you’re driving,” said Erin Breen, UNLV Vulnerable Road Users Project.

Supporters say this gives an enforcement tool to police for laws that are already on the books.

“People don’t seem to care much about a $50 fine,” Breen said.

She says traffic crash statistics show a corolation with cellphone use even when accounting for the valley’s rapid growth.

“Because when cellphones became more and more and more in use is when crashes went up and up and up and up.”

The ACLU has not yet weighed in on the bill but others believe there are still privacy concerns.

“I mean it’s a good concept, but I feel like it should be executed maybe differently to where it’s a little more non-invasive,” Flournoy said.

The bill’s first committee hearing is Friday. It would require a second hearing and a vote to move it along to the full assembly.

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