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Car Insurance Proof Requirement Going Into Effect

Times Staff Writer

California motorists stopped for moving violations will be asked for more than their auto-registration receipt starting Monday.

Under a new state law, law enforcement officers will ask them for proof of required insurance or of a bond or deposit placed with the California Highway Patrol showing their financial responsibility for any damages they may cause.

“We’re ready to go on this,” a CHP spokesman said.

The Robbins-McAlister Financial Responsibility Act, passed by the 1984 Legislature, represents the state’s latest attempt at getting uninsured motorists--estimated by the CHP as perhaps one driver in five--off the road. But the law only authorizes officers to check for proof of financial responsibility if the intervention is triggered by a moving violation, such as an illegal turn or speeding.

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“Under no circumstances will the patrol be stopping vehicles for insurance checks,” said CHP Commissioner James Smith.

Elements of ‘Proof’

“Proof,” which can be either written or oral, must contain the name of the motorist’s insurer and the policy number, or the number of the bond or deposit in the value of $35,000 for those who choose to insure themselves.

State law has long required motorists to have insurance or post evidence of financial responsibility. Most car owners buy automobile insurance covering a minimum of $15,000 for injuries to an individual and $30,000 for multiple injuries and death, plus $5,000 for property damage--generally, the other vehicle in a crash.

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A motorist lacking proof of financial responsibility can clear the charge by later showing proof of coverage in force at the time of the citation. Failure to have financial protection in force, however, is subject to $100 in fines, in addition to penalties for the moving violation.

Lying about coverage exposes the motorist to up to a mandatory year’s suspended driving privileges, up to $500 in fines and up to 30 days in jail, a CHP spokesman said. (The law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to take a monthly random sample of all tickets written in the state and check the information against insurance records.)


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