California Bill Would Allow Cellphones for Proof of Insurance

Assemblymember Mike Gatto said he doesn’t expect justifiable pushback to the proposal.

by / March 12, 2012

California Assemblymember Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, has authored a bill that would allow California drivers to show proof of insurance and auto registration on an electronic device.

AB 1708, introduced in February, came out of a brainstorming session with Gatto’s staff. Gatto asked his staff to suggest legislation that deals with the “hassles of life,” and legislative director Aaron Moreno suggested an easier way for drivers to show proof of insurance if pulled over for a traffic stop.

Gatto said that many young Californians pay for auto insurance on a monthly basis and receive new proof of insurance every month. Losing paperwork in the glove box can result in a ticket. Allowing easier proof would bring California law up to date with technological advancements, according to Gatto.

“I would venture that every time that there has been a change in technology … that laws had to change,” Gatto said. “This just falls into the category of updating our laws.”

The law, if passed, would allow drivers to show proof of insurance and DMV registration on a smartphone or a laptop that’s handy, Gatto said. Drivers would be able to take pictures of the documents, pull the documents up in an email or ask insurance providers for an electronic document. Insurers likely would not be required to provide the electronic documents, but could if requested, he said.

The proposed legislation will also include civil liberties safeguards and safety precautions. The bill will specify that consent for law enforcement to view a driver’s registration or insurance on a smartphone does not equate to consent to search the entire contents of the phone, Gatto said. Drivers can also easily turn on their cellphones after pulling over so will not be encouraged to use their phones illegally.

“I don’t anticipate there being a justifiable pushback,” Gatto said of the law. “This is not a bill where we’re trying to make anybody’s life difficult. Our goal with this is to make people’s lives easier.”

Editor’s Note: This story is adapted with permission from 


Ashley Nelson Contributing Writer