iPhone Saved Me $93 Fine During Traffic Stop: A First?


I got a ticket today for “Improper passing.” I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that, yes, I did pass but, no, it wasn’t improper. It wasn’t legal, either. But I’ll discuss that with the judge.

Anyway, when I got pulled over, I couldn’t come up with a current copy of my insurance card. Considering that anybody with PhotoShop or even Microsoft Word can generate a supposed “proof of insurance,” why police ask for it in the first place is still a bit mystifying, except that if you don’t have it, it’s $93 here in Connecticut.

Anyway, my insurance company* provides me with much of their stuff electronically, including E-mailed insurance cards. Problem is, I rarely open the E-mails from them because most of them are statements for my premiums which are paid automatically. So it would be highly unlikely for me to have noticed that my proof of insurance card was in the attachment and print copies and put them into the appropriate vehicles. (To be fair, I think the E-mails actually do tell what’s in the attachment, but I don’t ever read them. My fault. Sorry.)

So after handing the officer my expired insurance card, she handed it back and requested a current copy. I suppose people end up with many years’ worth of these things stacked in their glovebox, but I didn’t because I have only had the car for a little over a year. I knew it wouldn’t be there.

As she wrote the ticket (really, why not a warning?) back in her car, I got clever: I logged onto my insurance company’s very mobile-friendly website and requested a copy of my insurance card be sent to my E-mail. I then checked my E-mail.


Then I remembered that I had an iMac on at home and that there was a chance that it got put into the Junk folder, so I looked there and there it was! Now… could I read it?

Yes! Yes, I could successfully display the PDF! And, Yes! I could zoom in and show her the current dates on the card with VIN and everything else! And the iPhone display… it’s oh so clear and easy to read that, well, it was like looking at a real insurance card. Nice.

But… would she take that as proof of insurance?

Drumroll, please!

She came back to the window and asked if I’d found a current card. I said, “I can show it to you online,” and pointed to my iPhone. I then zoomed (Do you know how hard it is to pinch zoom when your hands are shaking? I don’t have any encounters with law enforcement… ever… so at each of the traffic stops I’ve been involved in—two in 23 years of driving—I’m understandably a bit nervous.) and she said… wait for it…

“Wow. OK, thanks.”

I told her I’d probably remember to print one out later this evening, I wished her “Merry Christmas,” she returned the greeting, and we parted company…

…whereupon I pulled further into the parking lot and proceeded to endure the ribbing of my cow-orkers who were arriving at our office Christmas party as I was getting ticketed.

I’m pretty sure the officer saw that I was headed into my office Christmas party. Perhaps she felt sorry for me.


Anyway, I’m certain that she’s never seen anybody provide proof of insurance using an iPhone, and I doubt that anybody else has ever done that during a traffic stop, either. Is this a first? Maybe, maybe not. Google doesn’t reveal anything, but you never know.

Bottom line: Thanks, Apple and thanks to my insurance company! You all rawk!

(Now, if Apple had an app that said, “Don’t do that! That’s illegal!” before I do something stupid again, they’d put Microsoft right out of business.)

*I’m not telling who my insurance company is—my identity was stolen recently and I’m leery of putting that kind of detail out there. And I’m sorry I can’t say, because they really are a superb company.

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