New Jersey bills cover vehicle insurance, hidden license plates

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/8/2014

Two bills getting attention at the New Jersey statehouse would legalize electronic proof of vehicle insurance in the state and prohibit drivers from obscuring license plate numbers.

The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee voted to advance a bill that would allow drivers to provide law enforcement officers with electronic proof of insurance on smartphones, tablets and other similar devices. Drivers would no longer be required to have the traditional paper proof of insurance to avoid a ticket.

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said nowadays nearly everything is being accepted in electronic format.

“Making e-copies a valid form of proof of insurance is a natural and appropriate progression to make life more convenient for (drivers),” Coughlin said in a news release.

A3905 specifies that law enforcement would be relieved from any liability for damage to an electronic device when it’s presented as proof of insurance. However, police would be forbidden from accessing any other information on the electronic device.

The option for digital proof of insurance is growing in popularity. More and more insurance companies offer apps for customers to download on electronic devices.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, 37 states have adopted the policy. Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, South Carolina and South Dakota enacted new laws this year.

Coughlin’s bill awaits further consideration in the Assembly before it can advance to the Senate.

A separate bill addresses concern from law enforcement about drivers who attempt to hide their license plates. S2546 would forbid merchandise intended to conceal license plates.

New Jersey law already prohibits drivers from obscuring license plate numbers.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, D-Hudson, the bill would prohibit the sale, purchase and possession of merchandise designed or intended to conceal or otherwise obscure license plates to evade law enforcement.

Violators would face fines up to $500.

A provision in the bill would exempt from liability newspapers that publish classified advertising for the affected merchandise.

Various types of license plate concealers are available. Products range from retractable license plate holders, anti-photo license plate covers, and sprays designed to reflect flashes from cameras along toll roads, highways and intersections posted with enforcement cameras.

The bill awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee. The Assembly version, A2969, previously advanced from the Assembly to the Senate.

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