Lawmaker proposes to update old law for drivers

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A lawmaker’s proposal to bring an old law up to speed with 21st-century technology could make things easier for drivers.

Representative Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad) sponsored House Bill 407 to require officers to accept proof of insurance on a mobile phone app if a driver does not have their insurance card handy. That’s because officers are finding that drivers have trouble finding the paperwork.

“They typically have the last couple years’ worth, but they’re all expired. Unfortunately, their current one is on their desk at home with their bills or something like that,” said Capt. Ron Vigil of Rio Rancho Police.

Not to mention, officers in areas like Albuquerque have discouraged drivers from permanently storing identifying documentation like that in their cars because of the high rate of car thefts and the potential for identity theft.

These days, officers say drivers are quick to pull out their phones to show proof of insurance.

“They all have apps for their insurance carriers, and they can bring up their current proof of insurance,” Capt. Vigil said.

There is just one problem with that.

“Right now, it’s unclear that that’s acceptable,” Representative Brown said.

She said the current law simply states proof is required, without specifying in what form.

So, as far as verifying it with a phone app, some officers will accept it and others won’t under today’s law.

Rep. Brown said she wants to clarify the law that hasn’t been updated since 1983, to require officers to accept an app to prove someone is insured if they don’t have their insurance card with them.

“The technology is so far advanced now that I think we can bring our statute up to date,” Representative Brown said.

She’s hopeful her bill will make it easier for drivers so that they don’t risk a citation and a trip to court just to prove they were insured all along.

House Bill 407 and House Bill 420, which aims to do the same thing, are both in committee at the Roundhouse.

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