I was asked to clarify the laws regarding vehicle registrations and insurance cards for everyone which I am happy to do.
WA State law under title 46 which is the State traffic code requires the registered owner of a motor vehicle to sign the registration and keep it in the vehicle at all times. Failure to sign a vehicle registration is a civil infraction which carries a $124.00 fine. I see unsigned registrations often and just remind the drivers to sign them but I do know a few officers out there who will cite for it so sign your registration. The fine is the same for not having a vehicle registration in the vehicle. Here is that law for your viewing pleasure:
RCW 46.16.260 License registration certificate -- Signature required -- Carried in vehicle -- Penalty -- Inspection -- Exception. (Effective until July 1, 2011. Recodified as RCW 46.16A.180.)
A certificate of license registration to be valid must have endorsed thereon the signature of the registered owner (if a firm or corporation, the signature of one of its officers or other duly authorized agent) and must be carried in the vehicle for which it is issued, at all times in the manner prescribed by the department. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or have in his or her possession a vehicle without carrying thereon such certificate of license registration. Any person in charge of such vehicle shall, upon demand of any of the local authorities or of any police officer or of any representative of the department, permit an inspection of such certificate of license registration. This section does not apply to a vehicle for which annual renewal of its license plates is not required and which is marked in accordance with the provisions of RCW 46.08.065.
As for liability insurance, a person operating a vehicle is required to carry valid proof of liability insurance and is required to show that valid card to law enforcement upon request. If you don't have a valid insurance card, the law states it is presumed that the driver is not insured. So, carry a valid insurance card at all times. The good news is if you don't have a valid insurance card and you receive the $550.00 civil infraction, you may go to court and IF you can show the court that you were insured at the time of the stop, the ticket will be dismissed. If you can't make it in to court, you can mail written proof to the court and get the same result but with no cost to you. NOTE: There is no mention that you have to carry your insurance card in your vehicle so the option is yours. Like the old American Express commercial use to say, "Don’t leave home without it." Good advice. Here is the law:
RCW 46.30.020 Liability insurance or other financial responsibility required -- Violations -- Exceptions. (Effective until July 1, 2011.)
(1)(a) No person may operate a motor vehicle subject to registration under chapter 46.16 RCW in this state unless the person is insured under a motor vehicle liability policy with liability limits of at least the amounts provided in RCW 46.29.090, is self-insured as provided in RCW 46.29.630, is covered by a certificate of deposit in conformance with RCW 46.29.550, or is covered by a liability bond of at least the amounts provided in RCW 46.29.090. Written proof of financial responsibility for motor vehicle operation must be provided on the request of a law enforcement officer in the format specified under RCW 46.30.030.
(b) A person who drives a motor vehicle that is required to be registered in another state that requires drivers and owners of vehicles in that state to maintain insurance or financial responsibility shall, when requested by a law enforcement officer, provide evidence of financial responsibility or insurance as is required by the laws of the state in which the vehicle is registered.
(c) When asked to do so by a law enforcement officer, failure to display an insurance identification card as specified under RCW 46.30.030 creates a presumption that the person does not have motor vehicle insurance.
(d) Failure to provide proof of motor vehicle insurance is a traffic infraction and is subject to penalties as set by the supreme court under RCW 46.63.110 or community restitution.
(2) If a person cited for a violation of subsection (1) of this section appears in person before the court or a violations bureau and provides written evidence that at the time the person was cited, he or she was in compliance with the financial responsibility requirements of subsection (1) of this section, the citation shall be dismissed and the court or violations bureau may assess court administrative costs of twenty-five dollars at the time of dismissal. In lieu of personal appearance, a person cited for a violation of subsection (1) of this section may, before the date scheduled for the person's appearance before the court or violations bureau, submit by mail to the court or violations bureau written evidence that at the time the person was cited, he or she was in compliance with the financial responsibility requirements of subsection (1) of this section, in which case the citation shall be dismissed without cost, except that the court or violations bureau may assess court administrative costs of twenty-five dollars at the time of dismissal.
(3) The provisions of this chapter shall not govern:
(a) The operation of a motor vehicle registered under RCW 46.16.305(1), governed by RCW 46.16.020, or registered with the Washington utilities and transportation commission as common or contract carriers; or
(b) The operation of a motorcycle as defined in RCW 46.04.330, a motor-driven cycle as defined in RCW 46.04.332, or a moped as defined in RCW 46.04.304.
(4) RCW 46.29.490 shall not be deemed to govern all motor vehicle liability policies required by this chapter but only those certified for the purposes stated in chapter 46.29 RCW.
Last edited by Anonymous on Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.