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Law Named After Chappaqua Victim Would Allow Police Seizure Of Cellphones

Evan Lieberman, 19, of Chappaqua died in a June, 2011 distracted driving accident.
Evan Lieberman, 19, of Chappaqua died in a June, 2011 distracted driving accident. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A proposed bill for "Evan's Law," named for a Chappaqua teenager Evan Lieberman killed in 2011 in a distracted driver crash was introduced Tuesday by state lawmakers, according to reports.

It would give police allowance to access cell phone records in investigating crashes, according to the article.

It took decades for statistics on fatal drunken driving crashes to translate into tougher DWI laws. Advocates for strict laws against cellphone use by drivers say they encounter the same detached attitude today.

That disconnect frustrates crash victims families, including Ben Lieberman of Chappaqua, father of 19-year-old Evan, killed as a backseat passenger in Orange County in 2011. The teen driving the car blamed the crash on his own drowsiness.

Three years later, an administrative law judge ruled that the driver, by then 21, violated several traffic laws, including using his cellphone while driving. 

The driver’s mobile phone was never investigated by the police, but cell records subpoenaed in a civil lawsuit found the driver used his phone.

The crash happened near the Bear Mountain Bridge on a section of Route 6 without cell service. 

There was no ability to prove whether the phone was used or not being used at the time of the collision. The case received widespread media coverage.

Ben and Debbie Lieberman and another parent whose son was injured in the 2011 crash co-founded an organization called Distracted Operators Risk Casualties or to press police and state legislators to treat distracted driving like drunken driving.

Unlike the clear protocol for testing drunken drivers, there is no mandate to investigate cellphone use by drivers involved in accidents.This contributes to the lack of reliable data that might result in tougher laws, Lieberman said.

Click here to read Daily Voice's story on distracted driving.

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