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Asked for insurance and registration, will Californians soon reach for their smartphones?

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Drivers flagged down by police may no longer need to fumble in their glove compartment for their insurance and registration.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill Tuesday that would give California drivers the option to carry proof of insurance and vehicle registration in electronic form, via “mobile electronic device.’ According to Gatto, Assembly Bill 1708's terms include iPads, smartphones and any other device on hand that can produce a readable representation.

“A lot of people that I talk to believe the legislature is the source of many hassles in life. I try to be a remedy for some of those small hassles,” Gatto said. “Several of my constituents have asked why California hasn’t joined the modern era and gone paperless.”

More than an issue of convenience, AB 1708 takes an environmental spin. Gatto also said he anticipates legislative committees to react positively to the proposal.

This is something that is pro-consumer, it saves paper, it saves postage for the state and insurance companies and on top of that, it brings a state that really was the birth place of so much of this technology into the 21st century. That’s something we should be mindful of,” he added.

The Department of Motor Vehicles said it does not comment on pending legislature.

The L.A. Weekly pointed out privacy concerns about a proposal that would allow law enforcement officials to search arrestees’ phones sans warrant if no passcode is in place, and the potential ambiguity that may be introduced with a phone that is unlocked to show proof of insurance.

Gatto said that privacy is a huge issue, one he's been involved with since last year when state Sen. Mark Leno introduced a bill that would stop the practice of police searching phones. Though that bill was vetoed, Gatto said he would make sure a provision is to AB 1708 to ensure a person’s privacy.

“We are specifically carving the privacy issue; we’re going to say that providing your consent to show your proof of insurance and proof of registration can never be construed as consent to search your phone,” he said.

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