Starting Thursday, a North Dakota law goes into effect requiring drivers to show proof of coverage on site during a traffic stop.
Previously, drivers stopped by authorities were given a 20-day grace period if they were unable to provide proof that their vehicle is insured. The new law nixes that grace period, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
“When we pulled somebody over and they did not have proof with them, we would have given them a warning,” the NDHP’s Sgt. Tom Iverson told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN). “Now that has changed. Basically, if you don’t have proof on you, you’d be cited with an infraction by the officer, and it’d be up to you to go and provide proof to the applicable court.”
Iverson said that drivers face a minimum $150 fine if they don’t furnish proof to the court and are convicted of driving without the North Dakota car insurance required to be behind the wheel.
There are no penalties or fees for drivers who eventually provide proof to the court.
According to Iverson, e-cards aren’t a common sight in North Dakota yet, though the NDHP “foresees it catching on in the future.”
“Motorists can download an app with their smartphones, so it makes things a lot easier since you don’t have to worry about updating your card with policy information,” he told OAIN.
Iverson said that photos of a hard-copy policy ID card displayed on a smartphone would also serve as legal proof of coverage.
“That came up a few days ago when someone asked if a photo of the ID card would pass and, to me, that’s sufficient proof,” he said. “Our officers may do a little follow-up work and call the insurer to confirm the policy, but I believe that a photo with the required info would pass as proof of insurance.”
North Dakota has one of the lowest rates of uninsured motorists in the U.S. According to the latest data from the Insurance Research Council (IRC), just above 9 percent of drivers in the state lack the required coverage to drive, far better than the nationwide average of 13.8 percent.
North Dakota has the 10th-lowest uninsured driver rate in the U.S., according to the IRC.
Iverson said that the state’s highway patrolmen don’t often encounter vehicles lacking coverage.
“It makes things very difficult for people if you don’t have your vehicle covered, but most North Dakotans are law-abiding citizens and know they need insurance on their car,” he told OAIN.