Distracted driving has always been an issue. People could be eating, day dreaming, or more recently talking or texting on cell phones. In a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was found that almost half a million people were injured as a result of distracted driving in 2009.
Though Arizona doesn’t have a state wide ban on the use of texting while driving (yet), there are bans in Phoenix and Tucson. Even with such laws, it can be difficult to demonstrate that an individual was distracted while driving. Absent witness testimony the only real way to show someone was using an electronic device is to hope there is a time recorded text message or conversation.
But, the mere fact that a driver has a distracting device does not always lead to a search of the phone or text records. Without such evidence it can be difficult to establish fault. Courts around the country are mixed, but many hold to a standard that requires witness testimony of phone or device use before a search of phone or device records can be initiated.
The rationale behind this rule is understandable. An individual’s privacy is of the upmost importance. However, there are other methods to get details on an individual’s device use while driving. For instance, an individual’s public Facebook or Twitter account may be accessed and cross referenced with their typical commute to school or work. Though posts made during that time may not be determinative, they could provide support to a request for the phone or device records.
Further, the testimony of an officer or a tow truck driver detailing that they saw the device near the driver may help support a request for the information from the device.
Regardless of the available methods to get this sort of information, the easiest way to gather information or to protect yourself is to hire a skilled and experienced attorney.