Uninsured drivers would face $500 fines under a bill that Vermont lawmakers plan to consider in their upcoming session.
State Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, said he has heard many complaints from people who have been stuck with bills from accidents with drivers who lack insurance.
Sears has proposed increasing the fine for no insurance, and to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to randomly check high-risk drivers for coverage.
“It’s been alleged that many people sign up for insurance, get their car inspected and get rid of the insurance,” Sears said. “My goal is to start a discussion about uninsured motorists.”
Compared to other states, Vermont has a low rate of uninsured drivers, said Motor Vehicles Commissioner Bonnie Rutledge.
Nationally, the number of uninsured driver is increasing, from 12.7 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2004, according to a 2006 report by the Insurance Research Council. Vermont’s rate of 6 percent was second-lowest; Maine had the lowest at 4 percent.
In Vermont, drivers are required to show proof of insurance when they have a vehicle inspected each year.
Sears said random checks for insurance of high risk drivers, such as those with suspended licenses, may dissuade them from buying insurance to pass inspection.
But Rutledge says the checks could be time-consuming for her department and that, at a time when state government is cutting jobs, she’s not inclined to take on that role.
Information from: The Burlington Free Press,
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