Drivers now are able to provide proof of insurance on any electronic device if pulled over for a traffic violation, Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, said. The change began Monday.
“It was not something we initiated in the city. It was initiated in the state Legislature during the last session,” Butler said. “Basically what was passed as a new law allows motorists who are stopped and need to display proof of insurance ... to display it on an electronic device such as a laptop, phone, smartphone, and the law states officers have to accept that as proof if it matches up with all other information.”
The new statute is being followed by the Ottawa Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said.
“Because of the statute change, the [Franklin County] commission doesn’t have to pass anything. We just accept it,” Richards said.
The easiest option for residents might be to take a picture and store it on their phones, Butler said. And if residents do so, they need not worry about an officer going through their phone, he added.
“Language in the statue prohibits an officer from viewing other items on the device if they’re handed the device to look at the insurance that should be displayed,” Butler said. “Officers are prohibited from looking through or surfing through a device.”
Each year, new traffic ordinances and changes to current ordinances are put into place by the Legislature, Butler said. Cities in Kansas are then able to adopt the Standard Traffic Ordinances, he added.
The most notable change this year is the ability to provide electronic proof of insurance, Butler said. The change hopefully will allow more people to easily provide verification that they are legally operating their vehicles, he said.
“People commonly don’t have their proof of insurance available,” Butler said. “Sometimes you have more than one person that operates the car and the main driver carries the proof in their possession, now they can install this insurance on the cell phone of every driver that uses the car so they all have it. I’m hoping more people will take advantage of [the new ordinance] and cause us to have to write fewer tickets.”