§ 31-47-12. Police officers and agents of administrator of the division of motor vehicles Fees collected, forms of proof.
(a) For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this chapter, every police officer of a state, town, or municipality is deemed an agent of the administrator of the division of motor vehicles. Any police officer who, in the performance of his or her duties as authorized by law, becomes aware of a person whose license is under an order of suspension, or whose certificate of registration and registration plates are under an order of impoundment, pursuant to this section may confiscate the license, certificate of registration, and registration plates, and return them to the administrator of the division of motor vehicles. Any forms used by law enforcement agencies in administering this section shall be prescribed by the administrator of the division of motor vehicles, the cost of which shall be borne by these agencies. No police officer, law enforcement agency employing a police officer, or political subdivision or governmental agency that employs a police officer shall be liable in a civil action for damages or loss to persons arising out of the performance of the duty required or authorized by this section. "Police officer" means the full-time police from the rank of patrol up to and including the rank of colonel or chief of any police department in any city or town within the state of Rhode Island or of the state police.
(b) All fees, except court costs, collected under this chapter shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the highway safety fund in a special account hereby created, to be known as the "financial responsibility compliance special account." This special account shall be used exclusively to cover costs incurred by the division of motor vehicles in the administration of this chapter, and by any law enforcement agency employing any police officer who returns any license, certificate of registration, and registration plates to the administrator of the division of motor vehicles pursuant to this chapter.
(c) The administrator of the division of motor vehicles, court, or traffic tribunal may require proof of financial security. A person may demonstrate proof of financial responsibility under this section by presenting to the court, traffic tribunal, or administrator of the division of motor vehicles any of the following documents or a copy of these documents:
(1) A certificate of proof of financial responsibility;
(2) A bond or certification of the issuance of a bond;
(3) A certificate of deposit of money or securities; or
(4) A certificate of self insurance.
(d) At the time of investigation of a motor vehicle offense or accident by a police officer or when a motor vehicle is stopped by a police officer for probable cause, the police officer making the investigation or stopping the motor vehicle shall ask for evidence of proof of financial security as defined in this chapter. Proof of financial responsibility may be provided using a mobile electronic device; provided, however, that the police officer requiring the proof of financial responsibility shall be prohibited from viewing any other content on the mobile electronic device. Any person utilizing an electronic device to provide proof of insurance shall assume any and all liability for any damage sustained to the mobile electronic device. If the evidence is not provided, a citation to appear before the traffic tribunal shall be issued to the operator. However, any citation issued solely for failing to provide evidence of financial responsibility shall be held by the issuing police officer or law enforcement agency for at least one business day before submitting the citation to the traffic tribunal. Any operator who receives a citation for failing to provide valid evidence of financial responsibility shall have the opportunity to provide evidence of financial responsibility that existed at the time of the violation within the one-business-day period, at which time the issuing police officer or law enforcement agency shall withdraw the citation, and the motorist shall not be required to appear before the traffic tribunal. Notwithstanding this provision, police officers who issue a citation for lack of evidence of financial responsibility, in addition to one or more other citations, need not wait the one-business-day waiting period before submitting the citation for lack of evidence of financial responsibility to the traffic tribunal. The traffic tribunal may, by rule and regulation, prescribe the procedures for processing the citations. Motor vehicles may not be stopped solely for the purpose of checking for evidence of proof of financial security.
(e)(1) Upon a first offense, one must provide proof of current insurance and a binder or release letter covering the cost of the accident, as long as the accident does not include bodily injury or death.
(2) In addition, penalties do not release the motorist from any pending matter before any other appropriate court.
(f) Any operator of a motor vehicle registered in this state who shall operate a motor vehicle without proof of financial security, as defined in this chapter, being in full force and effect on the date of the motor vehicle stop or accident, may be subject to suspension of license and fines as follows:
(1) For a first offense, a suspension of up to thirty (30) days and may be fined one hundred dollars ($100) up to two hundred and fifty dollars ($250);
(2) For a second offense, a suspension of up to six (6) months and may be fined five hundred dollars ($500); and
(3) For a third and subsequent offense, a suspension of up to one year. Additionally, any person violating this section a third or subsequent time shall be punished as a civil violation and may be fined one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(P.L. 1991, ch. 167, § 1; P.L. 1993, ch. 182, § 1; P.L. 1993, ch. 204, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 476, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 498, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 513, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 24, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 28, § 1; P.L. 2018, ch. 180, § 1; P.L. 2018, ch. 201, § 1; P.L. 2019, ch. 308, art. 2, § 10.)