New Jersey laws cover vehicle insurance, hidden license plates

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, August 14, 2015

Two new laws in New Jersey legalize electronic proof of vehicle insurance in the state and prohibit drivers from obscuring license plate numbers.

Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill to allow drivers to provide law enforcement officers with electronic proof of insurance on smartphones, tablets and other similar devices. Drivers are no longer required to have the traditional paper as proof of insurance to avoid a ticket.

Sen. Tom Kean, R-Union, said the change will make life easier for drivers.

“It’s important as technologies continue to change that steps like this be taken to modernize government services to ensure they are as efficient and convenient as possible.”

A3905 specifies that law enforcement is relieved from any liability for damage to an electronic device when it’s presented as proof of insurance. However, police are 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, 38 states have adopted the policy. As recently as four years ago there were no states allowing drivers to use their wireless devices to show proof of insurance during a traffic stop.

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

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

The new law prohibits 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.

The new rule exempts 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.

Another effort underway at the capitol is intended to protect Good Samaritans.

Assemblyman Dan Benson, D-Mercer/Middlesex, is working on a bill to help protect children and pets from being harmed by sweltering temperatures inside locked vehicles. Specifically, the legislation would provide immunity from civil liability for anyone who forcibly enters a vehicle to remove a minor or an animal from the vehicle under certain circumstances.

Circumstances that would qualify for protection include calling 911 prior to forcibly entering the vehicle.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

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