Have you ever found yourself scrambling for your insurance information after being pulled over by police? If you’re a resident of Oregon and Washington, you can show them your car insurance on your cell phone.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed a bill into law May 14, taking effect immediately, that allows residents to show electronic proof of car insurance. Of course, you can still keep the traditional paper card to prove you have insurance. In fact, you really need to continue with a hard copy in your vehicle, unless you don’t plan on traveling out of state where you may be required to present it.
Electronic proof of coverage is currently legal in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
There are bills waiting to be signed into law in Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin, with bills in the legislatures of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
If you’re interested in electronic insurance verification, there are a few things to consider. First, it may not be automatically provided, so contact your insurance company to find out. You will also want to be vigilant about keeping your phone charged. Not being able to access it could lead to a hefty fine.
It also doesn’t mean you are consenting a police officer to access other information on your electronic device. But the question that begs an answer is what constitutes official proof? The bill says that it will be up to The Department of Transportation to determine what constitutes proof. The most logical would be a clear digital replication of your proof of insurance, possibly in PDF form.
Surely some people will be tempted by the wild idea that they can easily dupe authorities by creating a fake electronic insurance card. Doing so in Oregon is a Class A misdemeanor, with maximum punishment of a year in jail and a $6,250 fine.