Whether you’re the forgetful type or the unlucky type, your smartphone can now come to your rescue with the law (traffic law, that is). If your glove box looks more like a trash can, you might have a hard time putting your hands on your proof of insurance when pulled over. And if you’ve received a ticket you want to dispute, you might be wishing for more options that hiring a lawyer or navigating the traffic court system yourself. Lucky for you, new technology-friendly laws and smartphone apps can help.
PROOF OF INSURANCE ON YOUR PHONE
Usually, you never want to let a police officer see you holding your phone while you’re in the driver’s seat. But, for the last couple of years, states have been passing legislation allowing drivers to present electronic proof of insurance to a police officer. Not every state allows electronic proof yet, but with 37 states accepting it so far, if you tend toward the forgetful or messy, you have a good chance of still being able to prove you’re insured if you get pulled over (as long as you don’t forget your phone).
What electronic proof must you offer, specifically?
Some insurance companies have digital ID cards available for download, and other insurers offer displays of your insurance card within their app.
States with new laws accepting electronic proof often don’t have set guidelines and will accept official in-app versions, .pdf versions, and even photos of your card. You can use any device—your phone, tablet, or even your laptop. Be sure to check to make sure your state is on the list before counting on not needing the hard copy of your insurance card, and make sure you check with your state’s DMV or law enforcement office to see what kind of electronic proof your state accepts.
And, if this all sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, the old-fashioned paper version is still, of course, accepted in all states.
APPS ARE THE NEW LAWYER
When you’re on the receiving end of a parking ticket, it’s easy to feel like there’s been some kind of mistake. If you’re in an unfamiliar city, street parking laws can be especially confusing, and therefore ticket-producing. Or perhaps you were sure you parked far enough from a hydrant, only to return to your car and see a ticket tucked under the wiper. Maybe you ran in to pick up take-out for just five minutes and the meter maid caught you. Many people choose to fight these expensive parking tickets, and while the tactic can save money, the paperwork and logistics can be a hassle.
Enter parking ticket apps like Fixed. Fixed will fight your ticket for you with a team of parking ticket experts, and all you need to do is upload a photo (the scene of the not-crime). You don’t even pay them unless the ticket is dismissed (which happens, they claim, 50 percent of the time). Fixed’s fee is 35 percent of the fine, and they even tell you your chances of dismissal upfront—maybe a tree was blocking the street cleaning sign, for example, upping your chances in appeal.
With Fixed, and other similar apps, there’s nothing to lose: if you don’t win your appeal, you don’t pay, and either way, you have the bonus of experts helping you with your paperwork and filings.
Quoted has suggested stashing your phone in the glove box while you drive, to prevent distraction, and while we stand by our safety tip, we suggest you keep your phone with you in the car—you never know when it could get you out of a ticket.
Have you used electronic proof of insurance during a traffic stop? Or have you used an app like Fixed to help you get out of a ticket? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!