Smart phones now make it easier for drivers to display proof of insurance when they are stopped by a police officer.
A new California law, Assembly Bill 1708, was passed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2012.
“It went into effect January 1st,” said Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for carinsurance.com. “Now, when a driver gets pulled over, they can have the choice of showing paper, your car insurance card, or you can show verification on an electronic device such as your smart phone.”
According to Gusner, California is among seven states that now have this law. The others are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana and Minnesota.
California law states that an automobile driver must always carry proof of insurance on them. If pulled over without proof of insurance, the driver can face a fine of $100 to $200.
This new law makes it easier for people to have their proof of insurance on them at all times.
It also helps to avoid unnecessary fix-it tickets for not having proof of insurance available at the time of being stopped.
“Most people have their smart phone on them, but don’t necessarily know where their insurance card is,” said Gusner.
Gusner said the main purpose for this was to make it easier for drivers and to help with not getting fined for not having proof of insurance on them.
Sophomore Paige Piper said she had not heard about this new law yet, but that she thought it was a smart idea.
“I think it is a good idea since most people have their smart phones on them all the time,” said Piper. “I would have both the paper and smart phone available just in case though.”
Although this law may sound useful for the drivers, it does provide a couple of issues for law officers.
“I would prefer the paper because…it is a lot faster for them to just hand me a piece of paper rather than to take the time for them to log onto the Internet on their phone and do a search,” said Simi Valley police officer Dan Hampson.
Because of the new law, officers are required to wait a certain amount of time for the person to pull up their information on their phone.
“I would allow them to do it while I am writing the ticket, but if they still aren’t able to pull it up after then I would say, ‘Okay, you’ll have to show it later on and you’ll be cited for it’,” said Hampson.
Hampson said police officers want to spend as little time as possible next to vehicles that are pulled over due to safety reasons, and this new law makes it difficult for them to do that.
Not all insurance companies in California have this option set up for their customers.
They can, however, send an email to their customers with PDFs of their insurance cards to save to their smart phones and officers will accept this as well.
“The car insurance companies need to be set up for it or have a mobile site or an application to download on the smart phone,” said Gusner.
A few auto insurance companies already set up for this are Geico, AAA and State Farm, but it is suggested that the customer contact their insurance company to find out more details.
Published Feb. 6, 2013