Next week, the Montana Highway Patrol will begin using the Montana Insurance Verification System (MTIVS) which can instantly confirm that a car has proper coverage in place.
Troopers will be able to verify insurance online through MTIVS with a driver’s name or license plate number. All state law enforcement agencies and court officials will get access to the database later this summer. County treasurers and the state Motor Vehicle Division will gain access by 2013, according to the MTIVS website.
The system was created through legislators’ passage of SB 508 in 2009 and is funded by an increase in license plate fees for each vehicle in the state.
“Uninsured drivers are a serious problem, undermining traffic safety and driving up the costs for insured, law-abiding motorists,” according to the MTIVS website. “Real-time insurance verification will make the roads safer for everyone.”
An estimated 11.4 percent of drivers in Montana lacked proper coverage in 2009, according to the Insurance Research Council, below the national average of 13.8 percent.
Convictions for driving without proper coverage in Montana bring a minimum fine of $250 on a first offense. The fine ramps up to $350 on a second offense along with suspension of registration and license plate up to 90 days. On the third or subsequent offenses, a driver faces a minimum $500 fine and up to a 180-day suspension of registration and license plates.
A driver’s license will be suspended until proof of compliance is provided on four convictions or more.
The state’s minimum auto liability requirements are $25,000 for injury or death of one person; $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people; and $10,000 for property damage.
Several states have already implemented and begun use of government-sponsored verification systems similar to MTIVS. Texas officials who launched TexasSure in 2008 say that, in the system’s first two years of operation, the percentage of uninsured drivers in the state dropped from 24.28 percent to 21.65 percent.
Other states in the U.S. are currently considering similar measures allowing database use for instant verification of coverage.
SB 2292 is in the state House in Tennessee after passing the Senate by a 32-0 vote in late April.
HB 2525 is being considered in a conference between the state House and Senate in Oklahoma, where lawmakers are trying to resolve use of a “probable cause” provision that would give police more discretion over which vehicles they check for proper coverage.