Ohio drivers caught speeding or involved in a fender-bender soon could hand their smartphones to law-enforcement officers instead of insurance cards.
A proposed change to state law would allow drivers to show proof of insurance on digital devices, including cellphones, laptops and tablets.
The House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security committee is reviewing a bill that would make that change.
“We’re in an age where you can use technology to pay your bills,” said Rep. Mike Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat sponsoring the bill. “We can utilize modern conveniences.”
House Bill 20 would alter Ohio’s financial-responsibility law to allow drivers to present proof of insurance to the registrar of motor vehicles, a law-enforcement officer, a traffic-violations bureau or a court through an electronic wireless communications device.
Among the approved devices in the bill are wireless phones, personal digital assistants, computers, laptops, tablets and “any other substantially similar wireless device that is designed or used to communicate and displays text or images,” according to the Legislative Service Commission.
Dean Fadel, vice president of government relations for the Ohio Insurance Institute, said 24 states have adopted similar rules.
The institute supports the bill, Fadel said, because it would help cut printing and postage costs and pave the way for insurers to provide a convenience that customers say they want.
“All the companies are trying to go more paperless as much as possible,” he said.
The bill restricts what information authorities can view on the device and puts the risk of a device being broken onto the owner.
If a device breaks in the care of a police officer or a court official, the owner is responsible unless the officer or official “purposely, knowingly, or recklessly commits an action that results in damage,” according to the Legislative Service Commission.
A spokesman for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles said the agency isn’t worried about what methods drivers use to show proof of insurance.