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Court rules warrant needed before searching data in car accidents

Many aspects of daily life have changed with the increasing use of technology. Now, many of the vehicles on New York highways and on highways in every other state in the country include data boxes. While these boxes contain vital information, they can also play a role in car accidents and defending the driver involved.

One court in another state recently ruled that these data boxes could not be examined for information without the authorities first obtaining a proper search warrant. This decision came about as a result of a case that involved a charge of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence. Police downloaded the information on the vehicle's data box without first obtaining legal rights to do so. The driver's defense team successfully sought to have the information suppressed.

The appeals court determined that the information contained in these data boxes is considered private information that is not openly available to the public. As such, it is not to be treated in the same manner as the mechanical structures on an automobile involved in an accident. The court found that owners and drivers of these cars are entitled to an expectation of privacy under the fourth amendment against unwarranted searches by officials.

This recent decision may set a precedent for future cases. Because technology is evolving faster than the laws, it is important that the rights of those accused of wrong doing are continually protected under the constitution. New York residents who find themselves facing a lawsuit that seeks to hold them and their insurers responsible for monetary damages after car accidents are entitled to seek the assistance of attorneys who can provide a competent and cohesive defense in order to eliminate or minimize any financial liability.

Source: wtxl.com, "Court: Warrant Needed to Search Car's 'Black Box'", Jim Saunders, March 29, 2017

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