According to top researchers, distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents. Private industry is addressing this issue by creating a tool to detect individuals who text while driving. Specifically, they have created a texting detector gun that will detect the small electrical pulses sent from handheld devices when it is used to text.
So what does this have to do with DUI? I’m sure this is the exact question that you’re asking yourself. The answer is it has a lot of DUI implications. Remember, a police officer needs a legal basis to initially pull over a person for DUI. So, a police car can aim the radar gun at every vehicle on the road to check for electronic pulses emitting from the vehicle. Once detected the police officer can detain the driver and initiate a DUI investigation if he feels it is warranted.
Some may argue that the officer is illegally searching the vehicle for electronic pules by using a texting radar gun. There is a good argument that if the police officer does not see a person texting then he should not be able to pull that person over by “looking through that person’s car with the radar gun.” I believe this argument will be used frequently in these cases due to individual’s privacy rights being violated. However, I’m sure there will be a lawyer somewhere who will argue on behalf of the government asserting that individual rights to privacy must be trumped for public safety reasons. (Remember distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents on the road.)
There are other issues that may cause concern. Many people will have questions regarding how this new technology will be utilized. For instance, how will the text detector gun know if it is the driver who is texting and not the passenger? What if the electronic pulse is due to the driver accidently hitting a button while driving – like pocket texting instead of pocket dialing? Does this apply to people who dictate their text messages using a hands free device? What if the car’s control buttons emit a similar electronic signature as a cell phone?
No one knows how the texting detectors will be used. There are no laws on the books, as of yet, legislating and regulating police officers driving the streets using these portable handheld devices to make sure that no other drivers are using their portable handheld devices. It may be years before these detectors come into use. However, you learned about it first on this blog. Take care and see you for next blog entry.