Study: NJ Drivers Face Harshest Penalties for Driving Uninsured

A study from into the penalties and fines across the nation for driving without auto coverage found that New Jersey enforces especially stringent laws while Idaho has especially lax consequences for the violation.

States in the U.S. levy fines against violators that commonly cost several hundred dollars and penalize those violators by suspending their license for a few months.
First-time violators in New Jersey, however, face fines ranging between $300 and $1,000, and the additional penalties are especially severe: a one-year suspension of driving privileges and a community service requirement.

A steepened fine ranging up to $5,000 is charged to repeat violators, who also face a two-week jail sentence and suspension of driving privileges for two years. After those two years, the violator will have to reapply for his or her license with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which can still reject reinstating the license if it decides that he or she is likely to violate the law again.

Meanwhile, the survey showed that Idaho had especially lenient repercussions for lacking coverage and getting behind the wheel. There, the infraction draws only a $75 fine.

The state enforces no license-suspension penalty for driving without coverage; 29 states in the U.S. require some form of suspension for the offense.

States Beefing Up Enforcement Tactics

In Louisiana, lawmakers passed a law re-establishing a penalty that allows police to tow the cars of first-time offenders; police had previously been allowed to only tow the car of repeat offenders. The law, Act 512 of 2012, got heavy support in the state Legislature, passing by an 82-7 vote in April and a 28-3 vote in May.

And thanks to legislative efforts in several states around the U.S. to establish Web-based databases containing insurance policy information, authorities will have an easier time identifying which cars on the road are operating without proper coverage.

Such databases, like the one used by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), allow insurers to submit regular reports on the coverage status of policyholders and their vehicles to state departments. The information is then updated in the database, allowing authorities to reference it in real-time and apply appropriate enforcement actions.

In Maryland, insurers were previously allowed to send policy information by media devices or email, but the MVA issued a notice earlier this month to insurers saying it will now use the new database exclusively and the new method of database reporting will become mandatory in October.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s Online Insurance Verification System, which works similarly to Maryland’s insurance database, is undergoing pilot-testing before a statewide launch slated for Jan. 1, 2013, when all authorities in the state get access to the system.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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