Law enforcement officers check proof of vehicle insurance by obtaining a hard copy or electronically confirming coverage through the driver's mobile device, reports CarInsurance.com. Although a majority of states mandate that law enforcement must accept either version, about a third still require drivers to present hard-copy documentation.
In some of the states in which electronic proof is accepted, the law is vague as to what constitutes such proof, states CarInsurance.com. In California, for example, the driver is simply required to present proof of insurance through a "mobile electronic device." The law does not specify whether such proof needs to be a PDF document with insurance company letterhead, a page that's part of the insurer's app or simply a photo of the hard-copy ID card. All three have been deemed acceptable by California law enforcement authorities.
With the development of technological design capabilities, drivers may be tempted by the prospect of simply creating a fake card to show law enforcement during a stop, warns CarInsurance.com. However, such action is a crime; in Nebraska, for example, it is a felony that may carry a fine of up to $10,000 and five years in prison. Not carrying proof of insurance only carries a modest fine.