Motorists To Face More Penalties For Driving Without Insurance
By Mark Bellinger. CREATED 7:15 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - If you're thinking about driving your car without insurance you may want to think again. Big changes are coming this summer.
Studies estimate one in five Tennessee drivers don't have auto insurance.
Sara Kiesling told NewsChannel 5 she was hit in a parking lot.
"And it's frustrating when other people don't and then we're the ones that get hit," Kiesling said. "I was in a parking lot. I was about to leave and a woman backed up into my car. She had a suspended license, expired tags on her car. No insurance."
It's already illegal in Tennessee to drive without insurance, but there's no way to really enforce the law. That's about to change.
State lawmakers passed legislation that creates a new verification system that goes into effect July 1.
When you pay for your yearly registration you'll have to have proof of insurance.
Cottontown Republican Representative William Lamberth sponsored the bill that passed in the Tennessee House.
"The clerk won't have to do anything differently. The clerk will literally just put that vin number into the system and just like the system checks to see whether or not they've had their emissions test done currently it will check to see whether or not that vin number has insurance associated with it," Rep. Lamberth said.
The fine is also going up from $100 to as much as $300. It's an incentive to buy insurance. Minimum insurance coverage costs between $300 and $400.
"We want it to be cheaper to just stay within the boundaries of the law and follow the rules of the road than it is to violate the law," Rep. Lamberth said.
A spokesman for AAA Auto Club said the new law could bring down some insurance premiums.
"If we carry insurance that's what we're looking for, that uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that we currently have," Spokesman Glenn McLendon said. "Yes, those rates could possibly be dropping by the insurance carriers, because more people will now have liability insurance."
That's good news for drivers who follow the rules and are frustrated others don't pay their fair share.
"I get really frustrated that I pay so much for insurance and have for the past 15 years," Kiesling said.
To top it off if you get pulled over and you can't prove you have insurance police have the authority now to tow your car. You'll have to pay the cost of towing and storing the vehicle.