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New device would allow law enforcement to prove you were texting and driving

Controversial technology works like breathalyzer
Posted at 11:09 PM, Feb 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-19 23:43:05-05

We set out in an unmarked car armed with a handheld camera. In the span of 20 minutes we spotted half a dozen rush hour drivers focused on their screens and not the streets.

FSU senior Lavon Reese paid the ultimate price when a texting driver slammed into her car doing more than 80 miles per hour. Her Aunt Gwendolyn Reese considers current legislation aimed at making texting and driving a first offense a good start.

A new tool could aid law enforcement at the scene of a crash.

The Textalyzer works much like a breathalyzer. Cellebrite, the company that developed the technology, sent engineer Chris Shin with a prototype for our demonstration.

From the passenger seat we went on to Facebook, sent texts and made calls.

We pulled back into the parking lot where Shin plugged the Textalyzer into the phone. In less than two minutes a read out populated his tablet screen.

It shows the exact time I typed a text, made a call and opened an app.

The minute by minute report would enable police to determine if distracted driving contributed to the crash while on scene.

State Representative Emily Slosberg lost her twin sister and four friends to a driver doing 90 miles per hour 20 years ago. She's a driving force behind the current bill that would allow the cops to pull over a texting driver. She says the Textalyzer is something she would consider introducing in the next legislative session.

The ACLU has already raised privacy concerns about the device. The tool records taps and swipes, not actual texts or content. And it'll never be used unless a law is passed.

We asked multiple Tampa Bay lawmakers to weigh in on the Textalyzer. Only Slosberg agreed to an interview.