R.I. Lawmakers Again OK Grace Period for Auto Insurance Cardholders

June 8, 2007

Legislation to give motorists a one-business-day grace period to produce their auto insurance card if asked to do so by a police officer has been approved by the Rhode Island Senate and House of Representatives and is headed to the governor’s desk, for the second time in two years.

The legislation would require law enforcement agencies that issue tickets to motorists for lack of evidence of financial responsibility to withhold submission of the ticket to the traffic tribunal until the next business day. The motorist would have until that time to submit evidence of insurance to the issuing police department and have the citation withdrawn.

The bills do allow law enforcement to immediately process a citation for lack of insurance proof if it is in addition to one or more other traffic offense citations.

Sen. John C. Revens Jr. (D-Dist. 31, Warwick) is the sponsor of the Senate bill – (2007 – S0335) — which was approved by the Senate early in May and passed by the House this week. Rep. Al Gemma (D-Dist. 20, Warwick) sponsored the House bill – (2007 – H5023) – which passed the House in late April and was approved by the Senate June 7.

Similar legislation during the 2006 session of the General Assembly was approved by both House and Senate, but was subsequently vetoed by the governor.

“I re-introduced the bill because I still think it’s a good bill, and a common sense bill, and the members of the House and Senate agree, once again,” said Gemma. “Under the current process, a driver will need to show up at the Traffic Tribunal on a certain appointed date and, upon presentation of the insurance proof, have the citation dismissed. Why not just give the motorist one business day to do that at the local police station, and eliminate all that other inconvenience?”

“I think the intent of our law regarding a motorist’s financial responsibility is to make sure drivers have insurance, not to hassle individuals who may have forgotten to put their insurance ID card in their car,” said Revens. “Requiring a one-day hold on processing this kind of citation is not going to subvert the law. It is merely going to give motorists a bit of a reprieve. If a motorist is responsible and has insurance, I think it’s fair to give him or her a chance to produce that proof.”

Source: R.I. Legislative Press Office

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