As of August, Alabama drivers have the option to show law enforcement pictures of their proofs of insurance and registration using an electronic device—likely their smartphones—after being pulled over. This will hopefully be a relief for motorists with messy glove boxes, or those who have misplaced their documents.
If they choose to comply with this new legislation, drivers must be able to show images of both documents electronically if requested by law enforcement. While they’re also asked to carry hard copy documents in case of technical issues, it is no longer required.
The law is supported by state and local police, who are wary of drivers rummaging through glove boxes during a traffic stop after recent attacks on officers during such incidents.
“When you aren’t organized, that kind of puts us on alert because we don’t know who we are dealing with on the side of the road,” said Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Corporal Jess Thornton. He further explained that when confronted by drivers digging through their belongings into which officers don’t have visibility, “. . .by default, we will be alarmed and really paying attention to what they are doing. So, as soon as we walk up to the vehicle and they are showing us their information on their electronic device, then there is no reaching at all.”
The Alabama law does not allow officers to review anything on a driver’s phone except images of the two documents. It also exempts officers from responsibility if a device is damaged during the inspection.
Overall, the new legislation should be fair and increase efficiency for drivers and officers alike.
For once, said Thornton, “everybody wins in this situation.”