On Sept 7th California became the seventh state
allowing drivers to provide proof of insurance through their smartphone or
other electronic device. Governor Brown signed AB 1708 and is still considering
another law that would increase fines for drivers who are caught texting while
The new law lets drivers carry proof of insurance on their
smartphone or even an iPad. The document can be electronically scanned and
stored on a smartphone. Most insurers offer mobile versions of policies, which
can be uploaded to a phone. Insurers and policyholders have welcomed the law
claiming it will make it much easier for consumers to provide proof of
insurance when requested.
Insurers commended California for its forward thinking and
taking advantage of the latest technology. Armand Feliciano, vice president at
the Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC), said in a press
release “Gov. Brown just brought proof of coverage into the 21st century, now
policyholders can use their technology to show they carry auto insurance and
avoid unnecessary fix-it tickets and a time-consuming trip to the courthouse.”
Drivers can still use the old paper card method if they
prefer to keep proof of insurance in their glove compartment or wallet but
drivers are encouraged to consider switching to paperless proof of insurance.
Other States Getting On Board
Arizona and Idaho approved electronic proof of insurance in
March while Minnesota made it legal in April. Louisiana passed their electronic
proof of insurance law in June. Colorado allows electronic proof of insurance
when owners are registering their cars but not during traffic stops. Alabama on
the other hand lets drivers use their smartphone during both the registration
process as well as during traffic stops.
There is usually little resistance from lawmakers when
considering these types of bills and California is no exception. The state
Assembly passed the law with a 78-1 vote and the Senate was unanimous at 36-0.
Mike Gatto, a democrat from Los Angeles was the author of the bill.
Texting Penalties May Increase
Another piece of legislation is still sitting on the
Governors desk waiting for signature. SB 1310 would increase fines for texting
and driving from its current $20 to $30 for first time offenders and up fines
from $50 to $60 for repeat lawbreakers. The law also adds a point to a drivers
record for the second violation of texting while driving and adds another point
for every additional violation. Court costs raise the fines even higher and if
multiple points are assessed to a license, drivers will lose insurance
discounts and could see rate increases.
The measure passed the Assembly 24-10 and the Senate 50-24
but Governor Brown has yet to sign the bill. He vetoed a similar bill last year
that would have raised fines even higher. The Governor has until September 30th
to either veto or sign SB 1310 into law.
California became the seventh state to allow drivers to
provide electronic proof of insurance and may increase fines for texting and