ST. PAUL - Starting July 1, Minnesota drivers can prove they have vehicle insurance by showing officers the proof on their cellphone or computer after legislators passed a bill this week allowing digital proof of insurance.
The new law was passed unanimously in the House and Senate, said one of the bill's sponsors, Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley.
"The Minnesota law was really silent on that, and that's the reason we're really kind of clarifying that electronic proof of insurance is valid," Eken said.
Minnesota joins 37 other states, including North Dakota, that have laws on the books allowing for digital proof of insurance.
Eken said Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, brought the bill forward after a constituent in his district was cited for not having an insurance card, despite showing an officer digital proof of insurance.
The State Patrol does not oppose the new law, said spokesman Sgt. Jesse Grabow.
"Our responsibility is to verify insurance coverage on vehicles at crashes, vehicle inspections and traffic stops," Grabow said. "Whether in a paper or electronic format, so long as it's true and accurate, is our focus."
The bill also includes language to quash some concern over privacy and liability, Eken said.
"The only concern that was expressed was whether a police officer could look at more than just the proof of insurance that's on the iPhone or the computer or whatever they're using," Eken said. "We put language in there saying they could only look at the proof of insurance, that they couldn't search anything else."
He said the bill also eliminates any liability for the officers who accept digital proof of insurance instead of an insurance card.
If a phone is dropped and broken while a driver is handing an officer a phone, the agency and officer won't be liable for the broken phone.
The law goes into effect July 1.