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N.D. tightens law on driving without insurance

FARGO -- The long arm of the law will soon hold a shorter leash when it comes to proving you have liability insurance to drive in North Dakota.

Starting Aug. 1, drivers must show proof of insurance either in writing or on a smartphone or other electronic device when asked by law enforcement, or they will be cited on the spot for driving without liability insurance.

If the proof of insurance is provided to the court, the person cited will not be convicted or assessed an administrative fee, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said in a news release.

If a fine is assessed, it's a minimum of $150, Highway Patrol Maj. Mike Gerhart said.

"The key is for the traveling public to carry a form ... of liability coverage with them," Gerhart said.

State law now gives drivers stopped for a violation up to 20 days to provide proof of insurance if they can't locate proof in their vehicle.

A driver can still be cited immediately if he or she doesn't carry liability insurance, Gerhart said.

In Minnesota, State Patrol troopers have discretion in handling driving without insurance cases, and fines can vary depending on the county where a motorist is cited, Trooper Tyler Uthe said.

Uthe said that if he's at an accident scene or pulls someone over for another infraction, he can give the driver a business card and tell him or her to mail, fax or electronically forward the required insurance information to him.

A trooper can also write a citation for driving without insurance on the side of the road, and if the motorist provides proof of insurance to the courts by mail, fax or electronically in 10 days, the matter is closed, Uthe said.

The minimum fines for the infraction vary between about $100 and $150 among the state's 87 counties, Uthe said.