The Textalyzer: New Technology Gives Police Access to Private Phone History

The Textalyzer is a new tech item that gives police access to a person’s phone history after an accident, but does it also sanction law enforcement to invade someone’s privacy?

The Textalyzer

Photo by: xersti

The state of New York, along with multiple other locations across the country, is eager for their police department to begin using a new gadget known as the Textalyzer. If it makes it through the New York State Senate, Utah won’t be far behind. The term “Textalyzer” is a spin-off of the breathalyzer except instead of detecting alcohol use, it would detect whether or not a phone was being used prior to a collision. The Textalyzer is a handheld device which officers can connect directly to a person’s phone at the scene of an accident and in less than two minutes, detect if there was any phone activity in the moments leading up to impact.

Flawless technology…

The Textalyzer device is allegedly meant to only detect if there is activity on a phone but there are a few possible flaws:

• Will it truly be able to distinguish if a person was actively looking and using their phone or if there unattended phone was merely receiving calls or texts?

• What if there is activity on the phone, but it was being used hands-free which is legal?

• Does the Textalyzer know whether or not a passenger was using the phone and not the actual driver?

In order to help prevent some of these flaws, simply detecting any activity on the phone won’t be enough. To help reduce flaws with the Textalyzer, it may need more access to a person’s private cell phone history in order to protect that person from being falsely accused of cell phone use while driving.

“Private” cell phones

Textalyzer

Photo by: Lord Jim

Some reports state the Textalyzer could tell what apps were used prior to a collision and if the driver was sending content or just receiving it. This means if someone receives a message on Tinder or another private social media app or sends one themselves it could end up publicly documented in a police report. Even then, there is no way to tell who was using the phone in the car unless of course the driver was alone. To really know for sure when two or more persons were in the car, the content of messages such as a picture taken by a passenger or a reply to a text made by a passenger in behalf of the driver might have to be evaluated to tell who was actually using the phone. In order to not be falsely accused of texting or Facebooking while driving, a large amount of the driver’s private phone history would have to be disclosed and likely documented in a report.

Illegal search and seizure

The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Textalyzer would give law enforcement the right to search a person’s private property: their cell phone. It would also give police the right to illegally seize information found on the phone that belongs solely to the owner.

Convenience doesn’t take priority over Constitutional Rights

Photo by: Bill Selak

The Textalyzer may be a simple, easy-to-use device, but realistically it is nothing more than a convenient back door approach for law enforcement to get around going through the proper channels meant to protect a person’s Fourth Amendment rights. If the wool is removed and the Textalyzer is seen as the invader of privacy that it is, officers would have to return to legally obtaining a warrant to search the records of a phone. This may be a longer process than the Textalyzer, but the extra time is worth it to ensure no one’s Constitutional rights are violated.

Aggravated Assault for Single Punch to the Face

Some people have the capability to do a lot of damage with a single blow and those who do may face aggravated assault following a solitary punch to the face of another person.

Aggravated assault

Punch to the Face

Photo by: Alex Southward

If a person causes a serious injury to another through the use of violence, they can face aggravated assault charges, even if the violent act was brief. Utah Code 76-5-103 states that “Aggravated assault is an actor’s conduct that is:

(i) an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;

(ii) a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or

(iii) an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and

(b) that includes the use of: [weapons, choking, or]

(iii) other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.”

Aggravated assault is a third degree felony unless serious bodily injury or lack of consciousness results; at which case it becomes a second degree felony.

Serious bodily injury

When punches are thrown, there often isn’t a worry for serious bodily injury to result. This does not mean throwing punch will not have devastating results however. Most people underestimate the damage that a single blow can cause. Beyond the obvious headache that will ensue for the victim, a solitary punch to the face can cause:

• A broken nose or other facial fractures;

• Shattered teeth,

• Detached retina;

• Concussion;

• Brain hemorrhage; and even

• Death.

Some serious injuries from a solitary punch result from the act itself while other injuries transpire from the individual falling after the blow.

One punch to the face could be fatal

Death from a single punch isn’t as uncommon as one might think. There have been multiple reports in the news of a single punch to the face proving fatal. In late April, a California man visiting Las Vegas for his brother’s wedding was confronted by an individual who asked what he was looking at before delivering a single sucker punch to the face. The 45 year old father of 5 died 4 days later. One week prior to that, an Illinois teen was killed after being punched one time in the face at a party. These are just a couple of the numerous cases of death from a single punch to the face. If a single punch to the face results in death, that individual will then have to face murder charges.

Legal counsel

Never underestimate the consequences of a single blow. For those who are facing criminal charges following an assault to another person or in the case of an unexpected death following a fist fight, contact a criminal defense attorney right away to discuss what steps to take during the legal process.

Open Burning Laws and Penalties in Utah

Utah has open burning laws in place that increase in strictness during the summer months and failure to comply can result in severe criminal penalties.

Air quality

Photo by: Cheng

According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, “Open burning is a source of air pollution that is regulated by the Division of Air Quality (DAQ). There are statewide rules in place that regulate open burning activities to help minimize emissions and ensure that the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are met.” Beyond air quality control, open burning causes increased risk of wildfires during the summer months.

Open burning permits

No matter the season, open burning always requires permission from local fire officials. Utah residents who wish to take care of weeds on their property by torching them must first obtain a permit.The DEQ states that residential open burning permits “may be issues between March 1 and May 30 and between September 15 and November 15” in select counties. “Permits may be issued between March 30 and May 30 and between September 15 and October 30 in all other areas of the state.” When the season is closed, there are permits available for agricultural use only. These permits can be obtained through the nearest fire department or county sheriff.

Basic rules for open burning

Open Burning

Photo by: Julie

If a person has received a permit for open burning, there are basic rules that must be followed to avoid criminal charges. Utah Administrative Code R307-202 lists some requirements and prohibitions such as:

• “no person shall set or use an open outdoor fire for the purpose of disposal or burning of petroleum wastes; demolition or construction debris; residential rubbish; garbage or vegetation; tires; tar; trees; wood waste; other combustible or flammable solid, liquid or gaseous waste; or for metal salvage or burning of motor vehicle bodies.

• No material shall be burned unless it is clearly described and quantified as material to be burned on a valid permit.

• Open burning of clippings, bushes, plants and prunings from trees incident to property clean-up activities, including residential cleanup, provided that the following conditions have been met: ( . . . )

• (iii) Such burnings occur in accordance with state and federal requirements;

• (iv) Materials to be burned are thoroughly dry; and

• (v) No trash, rubbish, tires, or oil are included in the material to be burned, used to start fires, or used to keep fires burning.”

Personal fire pits and campfires

UAC R307-202-6 notes “The following types of open burning do not require a permit when not prohibited by other local, state or federal laws and regulations, when it does not create a nuisance, as defined in Section 76-10-803, and does not impact the health and welfare of the public.

(1) Devices for the primary purpose of preparing food such as outdoor grills and fireplaces;

(2) Campfires and fires used solely for recreational purposes where such fires are under control of a responsible person and the combustible material is clean, dry wood or charcoal; and

(3) Indoor fireplaces and residential solid fuel burning devices except as provided in R307-302-2.”

Criminal penalties

Photo by: Shanon Ramos

For those who do not obtain a permit when it is required or otherwise fail to follow the rules regarding open burning laws, there is the possibility of criminal penalties. The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands and Utah Code 65A-8-211 state regarding open burning that failure to do any of the follow is a class B misdemeanor:

• “tend the fire at all times;

• Notify your local fire department dispatch [prior to open burning]; or

• [not making sure the fire is] out cold before leaving the scene.”

Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. For any Utah residents who are facing criminal charges for open burning or other fire related charges, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.