SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – The flashing police lights in the rearview mirror could soon be a reason to reach for the smartphone rather than hide it, if a bill to make vehicle registration and insurance forms electronic becomes law.

The bill by Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles would give Californians the option of presenting electronic copies of such documents during traffic stops using a cell phone, tablet or other hand-held device.

KCBS’ Rebecca Corral Reports:

“Probably in the 1920s, the state law had to be changed to update things for the telephone. And I think that we’re just in an era where we need to update a lot of our laws to reflect electronic reality,” he said.

Some insurance companies have already introduced apps that display customer information, but the California Vehicle Code does not mention electronic devices. Many law enforcement officers interpret that to mean motorists must hand over paperwork.

Gatto said he plans to amend his legislation to require the Department of Motor Vehicles would to provide documents electronically if the motorist so chooses.

“The DMV could still send out paper proof of registration, but if the person at home wanted to scan it and put it on their smartphone, that would be their option,” he said.

Assembly Bill 1708 is expected to go before the Assembly Insurance Committee later this month.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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