Uninsured Motorists – Guest Column
by Senator Will Kraus
February 16, 2012 – Earlier this year, I filed Senate Bill 696, which increases fees, fines and penalties for uninsured motorists. For years, I have heard from one constituent or another who was hit by an uninsured motorist and found out how devastating it can be.
In doing research for the bill, I found some incredible statistics. In the year from July 2010 to July 2011, there were more than 6,000 collisions in Missouri involving uninsured motorists. In the calendar year 2010, the state issued 22,000 citations to uninsured motorists. Overall, 14 percent of Missouri drivers are uninsured. The Missouri State Auditor estimates that it costs those of us with insurance more than $90 million per year to cover uninsured motorists.
I decided it was time to crack down on this growing problem. I asked our Senate research staff to summarize all the laws related to uninsured drivers, and then I set about making them tougher.
Under SB 696, anyone caught driving while uninsured would have his or her license suspended. The measure also raises the reinstatement fee for first, second, and subsequent offenses. It also doubles the suspension period for second offenses.
Currently the court can fine an uninsured driver up to $300 and sentence him or her to jail for up to 15 days for a second or subsequent offense. SB 696 adds a mandatory $1,000 fine for a second offense, and a $5,000 fine for a third offense.
Finally, SB 696 adds two new impound capabilities. If it passes, courts will be able to impound the vehicle of an uninsured driver for up to six months on a second or subsequent offense. In addition, an officer would be able to order the impounding of a vehicle of an uninsured driver who is involved in an accident.
SB 696 was heard in the Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee this week. There was no testimony in opposition to the bill. My hope is that it will pass out of committee next week, and be heard on the floor in the near future. My intent for this legislation is to reduce the number of motorists who are uninsured and to limit the impact those uninsured drivers have on all Missourians.
Please feel free to contact the 8th Senatorial District’s Capitol office with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 573-751-1464, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.