Could a digital insurance card allow officers to look at other information on my phone?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Traffic stops can be nerve-wracking. While you are waiting for the officer to approach your car, you try to remind yourself of what you should and should not do as you wonder why they pulled you over in the first place.

In the past, police officer requests for your license and proof of insurance meant digging through your glovebox looking for the elusive of paper. Now that you can store your insurance card on your phone, you may have more questions about what officers can do while they have your phone.

Here’s what you should know about the rules and restrictions on digital insurance cards and what officers can see while holding your phone.

Are police allowed to look at other information?

Unlike the cell phones of the past that could call, text and play Snake, today’s smartphones store, send and receive a vast amount of information. In addition to the basic functions, your phone might hold private health information from your last doctor visit or a privileged email for your job.

When the Minnesota legislature passed the laws that allowed residents to present a digital insurance card to police officers, they also created protections. An officer looking at your phone to verify your insurance is not permitted to look at anything else while holding your phone.

Are police liable for phone damage?

Phones can get expensive and often feel like they could crack or break at any moment. While you may be understanding that accidents happen, you still do not want to be in a situation where you need to replace your phone because an officer dropped it.

Unfortunately, if an officer accidentally drops and damages your phone, they typically are not liable for any damages. In the eyes of the Minnesota legislature, using a digital insurance card comes with the risk that an officer might unintentionally drop your phone.