Police Can Now See If You Have Insurance Before They Even Pull You Over
MICHIGAN — It’s something every driver should have on them when they get behind the wheel and it’s one of the first things police look for if you happen to get stopped.
But now, some existing technology is providing a new tool that’s being used by Michigan State Police and other agencies across the state giving officers the upper hand to determine if you’re driving without insurance.
Officers can run a driver’s license plate through their in-car computer systems to access the information which began to be available last September.
Insurance companies are now required to send information to the Secretary of State’s office twice a month, on the 1st and 15th, making that information readily available through the statewide Law Enforcement Information Network, or LEIN.
Its now linked to the license plate for that car so when were on a traffic stop and we run that persons license plate then it will come back either that they have insurance or dont,” said F/Lt. Chris McIntire with the Michigan State Police Rockford Post.
McIntire said state law still requires drivers to carry proof of insurance in their vehicles.
While the information might be more readily available, it doesn’t mean officers will be specifically targeting drivers for just this reason, McIntire said.
Not having insurance for your vehicle is considered a secondary violation which means police technically can’t pull a driver over just for that offense, according to McIntire.
What Happens If Youre In A Car Accident Without Insurance As The Not
Where you live has an impact on what happens if youre in an accident while driving uninsured by youre not at fault. In some cases, no pay, no play laws take effect, meaning that because youre not insured, you wont receive any financial compensation even if youre not at-fault, because you are uninsured.
In other cases, its up to the insurance provider, but if youre uninsured, you dont have the representation to help make sure you get fair compensation, so you may not receive what you need to cover the cost of repairs and/or injuries.
I Have Been Caught Driving A Car I Thought Was Insured Can I Be Fined
Unfortunately, ignorance is no defence when it comes to driving uninsured vehicles. Drivers are expected to check that the vehicles insurance policy covers them when driving a car.
If you are caught the owner of the vehicle can also expect to face a fine for allowing their car to be driven when it was uninsured.
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Proving Fault Without A Police Report
Fault has to be determined without a police report in many accident claims. When they don’t have access to police reports, insurance companies gather information and evidence from all parties and any available witnesses.
That’s why motorists are wise to gather their own evidence after an accident by taking photos and/or video, getting copies or photos of identification and insurance documents, and obtaining contact information from other drivers and witnesses, in addition to taking other steps to protect their claim.
Sometimes, the law assumes fault based on the type of accident that occurred. For example:
Rear-end accidents: These accidents are almost always the fault of the driver who ran into the back of another vehicle.
Left-turn collisions: These accidents are almost always the fault of the driver taking the left turn.
Motorists who are unsure whether or not they’re at fault should review their state’s “Rules of the Road,” which can often be found on the local DMV’s website, in the state’s highway manual, or in your states Motor Vehicle Code â available in FindLaw Codes â for the law that applies to the type of accident that occurred.
Penalties For First Offense
If you can’t provide proof of insurance at a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident, the state will temporarily suspend your driver’s license, license plates and vehicle registration. You’ll need to pay $160 total to get the license plates back a $100 reinstatement fee, $50 compliance fee and $10 registrar service fee. The state will restore your registration once you pay the fees and your insurer files an SR-22 form on your behalf. The form will need to stay on file for three to five years.
If you violate any terms of the suspension, the state will immobilize your vehicle and take your license plates for 30 days.
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- Insurance is electronically verified through the DMV in most states
- When a lapse of insurance is reported by the carrier, the DMV can suspend license plates
- Officers can see if you have valid insurance before or during a traffic stop
Insurance is something that all drivers should have before they even get behind the wheel. Not only is it required by law, but its the first thing that law enforcement asks for proof of when youre stopped for a moving violation.
You can really start your encounter with a police officer off on a bad foot if you dont have insurance.
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What Is The Penalty For Providing Fake Proof Of Insurance
Is not having auto insurance a criminal offense? Not only is it a criminal offense, but its also an additional crime to drive uninsured and attempt to use fake or invalid proof of insurance. If you hand over a card that appears to be valid, you could get in even more trouble when the officer discovers the policy was canceled for non-payment months back.
In some states, officers are allowed to arrest people on the spot who are knowingly furnishing fake ID cards. In addition to your moving violations, you may face penalties for falsifying documents or using counterfeit documents to government officials.
Can Cops Tell If You Have Insurance By Running Plates
Cops can tell if you have insurance by running your plates. At a traffic stop, officers dont have to pick up the phone and call the number on the ID card to verify the status of a policy. Instead, they can walk to their patrol car, access a web portal, and review the real-time status of insurance data on a specific vehicle by its license plate number.
These real-time systems save officers time and will hold drivers accountable to follow the law.
While many states have enforced some type of electronic reporting requirement, there are still states that havent fully implemented a computerized way to verify insurance data. Instead, they use a Random Selection Program that requires random people to prove insurance on a specific date.
In these states, the number of uninsured drivers may be much higher than whats reported because its much easier to fake coverage. Take a look at this table populated with Insurance Information Institute data to see the uninsured motorist data for every state in the country so you can see the percentage of uninsured drivers in your state.
Percentage of Uninsured Drivers by State
While the average varies per state, the overall average is about 13 percent across the country.
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How Police Catch Uninsured Drivers
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Although car insurance is required in 49 states and the District of Columbia, nearly 30 million Americans choose to drive uninsured. And, surprising as it may be, the majority manage to stay off Johnny Laws radar. But perhaps not for long.
The growing popularity of automatic license plate recognition systems, which allow law enforcement real-time access to uninsured-motorist databases in their state, may soon change how police catch uninsured drivers. In some places, it already has.
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The Process Works Like This:
Step 1) You are pulled over by a police officer
Step 2) The police officer requests proof of insurance
Step 3) You provide proof of insurance documentation to the police officer
Step 4) The police officer checks your proof of insurance documentation, verifies the name and date, then hands it back if everything is in order
If the officer suspects you do not have insurance, or if the officer believes the document is fake, then the officer may call your insurer to verify your policy.
Alternatively, in some states, the officer may not need to call your insurer to verify your policy status instead, your insurance status is connected to your license plate, and the police officer already knows whether or not you have insurance.
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Digital Pink Slips Help Fight Fraud
While some argue that electronic proof could lead to additional instances of insurance fraud, paper pink slips can be duplicated and manipulated just as easily. Technology solutions such as electronic proof and secure delivery of authentic cards can help minimize fraudulent use.
This situation commonly leads to a problem where some high risk drivers cancel their policy after they get their pink slip, giving them the ability to show the police proof when they do not actually have any. The driver cancels or defaults on payment and does not actually have coverage, but the police do not have a way of verifying unless they call the provider. Electronic proof will help stop this type of fraud from occurring.
Why Is It Illegal To Drive Without Car Insurance
Federal law requires drivers to have car insurance to ensure that the interests of pedestrians and other motorists are protected if an accident occurs. The cost of a car crash can be quite devastating, and if you dont have car insurance, you and the other parties involved can be ruined financially. If you are at fault in an accident and have insurance, your insurance provider will cover the claims of the person you hit. Now, if you dont have valid car insurance, youll have to pay for the other persons hospital bills, car repairs, and other losses from your pocket. What happens if you fail to do that? Simple, you run the risk of getting sued. This is on top of the payments for injuries you have sustained and the repairs on your car. To avoid all these issues, make sure you have valid car insurance.
Also read: How much is a ticket for getting caught driving without car insurance?
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Ask An Expert: When Should I Call A Lawyer
Ambrosio RodriguezAttorney, owner and founding partner of the Rodriguez Law Group
The police cant just pull you over because they feel like it. An officer must have whats known as reasonable suspicion to suspect that youve committed a crime or broken the law in some way. So, they either have to have seen you break the law or observe facts that, when considered together, raise a reasonable belief that something is wrong .
If an officer cannot provide a legitimate reason for why you were pulled over or if their reason sounds really far-fetched its essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. If youre arrested or charged with a crime, your attorney can review your case, determine if your rights were violated, and petition the court to get evidence or your case thrown out.
Should You Wait For The Police To Arrive
If you call the police after a minor car accident, it might take an hour or more for an officer to arrive. It’s important to wait for them. While you are waiting, you should:
- assess the situation
- watch what you say to the other driver and anyone else at the scene.
Once a police officer arrives, only talk to the officer about the specifics of your accident. Provide the information that the officer requests, but say no more. Remember, any statement you make could end up in the police report and be used against you in your insurance claim or in court.
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Help I Got A Notice Or A Tickettop
If the DMV cannot verify your liability insurance coverage, there are several steps in a process that may lead to a suspension of your vehicle registration and a possible citation by law enforcement.
Please review the following to help resolve your issue. In most cases, there is no need to visit a DMV office.
Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act
Insurance requirements for Ontario drivers falls under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act of Ontario.
Under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, the owner of a motor vehicle is responsible for insuring that the vehicle is covered with liability insurance before the vehicle is driven on the roadway.
Even if the owner of the vehicle is not driving, they can be charged with permitting the operation of a motor vehicle without insurance.
The fine for driving without insurance is five thousand dollars, plus a surcharge of approx. twenty percent for a first offence.
Meaning if you are caught driving without insurance the total fine is six thousand two hundred and fifty dollars.
Where there is a subsequent conviction the fine doubles each time.
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Failure To Surrender Insurance Card
Even if you have valid Ontario car insurance, you can still face a fine if you fail to surrender your slip when prompted by police. You know that if you are pulled over by police during a traffic stop, they are going to ask for your drivers licence, vehicle registration and proof.
If you cannot provide proof, you can be charged with :
- Operating a motor vehicle without insurance : This charge implies you were driving without insurance.
- Failure to surrender proof : This charge implies that you failed to produce proof of insurance to police.
If you have simply forgotten your card, all you will need to do is attend court to show proof of a valid policy and the charge will be cancelled.
However, if you choose to pay the ticket for failure to surrender proof it will go on your driver’s abstract. It could also impact your premium, even if you do have a valid and active policy.
You Can Get Car Insurance In California Even If You Are
Uninsured: Unless you’re a newly licensed driver, having a history of driving without insurance or lapses in coverage is a risk to insurers. To insurance companies, it’s similar to a bad driving record, which is why drivers who let their insurance lapse for 60 days pay about 6% more than the average premium in California.
USAA, State Farm, Nationwide, and Geico tend to have the lowest rates for drivers who want to regain coverage.
Driving someone else’s car: It’s not illegal to drive someone else’s car if you do not have insurance, but non-owner car insurance can protect you if you don’t have a car but still drive regularly. If you borrow a car from someone living in your own home, you should be listed on the car owner’s policy. But you may want to explore non-owner coverage if you need to reinstate a driver’s license, you rent or borrow cars frequently, or you want to maintain continuous auto coverage between vehicles.
Geico, State Farm, Nationwide, and The General good places to shop if you need non-driver car insurance.
High-Risk: If you’re a high-risk driver who has been denied coverage from traditional insurance companies, check out California’s assigned risk program. Whether you require an assigned risk program or still qualify for high-risk insurance from conventional providers, you’ll pay more. In California, drivers with just two speeding tickets pay an average of 97% more on their annual car insurance premiums, for example.
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The Bottom Line: Can Police Check Your Auto Insurance
If you are driving without insurance and havent yet been fined, its time to buy coverage now. Use an online rate comparison and youll be better able to find the rates through several different providers.
Once youve compared the instant quotes, make a decision, and submit your application and initial payment for immediate insurance coverage.
Make sure you have the coverage you need, regardless of whether you get pulled over at a traffic stop or not, by using your ZIP code in our free tool so you can start comparing rates today.