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California Allows Electronic Proof of Insurance and May Raise Texting Fines

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 driving.

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 driving.