State legislators are working on ways to better identify Minnesota residents who drive without auto insurance.
Motorists don’t have to show proof of insurance when renewing a vehicle’s registration. People who drive without insurance can lose their licenses and be fined about $300.
The state has a law mandating insurance but doesn’t have a meaningful verification system, said Sen. Susan Kent, who heads the uninsured motorist task force that is expected to come up with recommendations by Feb. 1. The committee has explored options ranging from increasing fines to seizing license plates of uninsured drivers.
“There’s a real sort of continuum of how strong we want to be in these enforcement mechanisms and how hard we want to pursue people to prove their insurance,” Kent said.
The insurance industry estimates 10 to 20 percent of Minnesotans drive without insurance, Minnesota Public Radio reported. And those uninsured motorists drive up premium costs for insured drivers.
Minnesota motorists paid about 33,000 tickets for driving without insurance last year, while another 38,000 tickets were issued but not paid. It’s unclear how many of the unpaid tickets were the result of a driver who later presented proof of insurance, a task force member said.
The Department of Public Safety is upgrading its computers and making other technological advances that should make it easier to identify uninsured drivers, Kent said. The license plate readers in police patrol cars could be links to insurance databases so officers know immediately if someone is driving without insurance, she said.
The committee is also trying to pinpoint the demographics of uninsured drivers. Some people believe people who are young, low income or drive older cars are more likely to not pay.
The task force met Tuesday in St. Paul. Members include law enforcement personnel, insurance industry representatives and others.
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