Digital proofs of vehicle registration made legally acceptable in Michigan

By Josh Vissers | 8/20/17 10:20pm

GVL / Josh Vissers The Michigan state capital building on Thursday, July 27, 2017.

Digital proofs of registration can now be used at traffic stops, after new legislation was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in June.

“Allowing motorists to present vehicle registration to a law enforcement officer electronically is a common sense move that makes life easier for Michiganders,” Snyder said in a press release.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Peter Lucido, protects anything other than the proof of registration from viewing by an officer.

“Anything else learned from that phone is inadmissible in a court of law,” said Lucido, also a licensed attorney.

Beyond that, the officer “shall not manipulate the electronic device to view any other information on the electronic device,” according to the wording of the bill itself. The bill also allows the officer to instruct a person to forward the electronic proof to another device so it can be viewed in the safety of an officer’s vehicle, and it also protects the officer from any liability for personal devices used to present proofs.

“I think that’s unfair,” said Steve, a senior in the mechanical engineering program at Grand Valley State University who declined to give his full name. While happy to be able to use digital proofs, he thinks officers have a responsibility to safeguard the electronics while they are in their possession.

Lauren Gravelyn, a graduate student of psychology at GVSU, was more forgiving when it came to the potential for broken devices.

“I don’t think a cop would do that on purpose,” she said, confirming that paper was still an option for anyone who was worried.

Lucido is also working on another bill, which he hopes will create a database of insured drivers that will be updated in real time. He hopes the two bills combined will reduce the number of people driving in Michigan without insurance by making enforcement of current laws easier.

“We have an epidemic of people driving around without car insurance,” Lucido said. “I think these bills are necessary because insurance costs are out of control.”

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