I’ve written before about the Texas pilot program to finally begin enforcing the state’s mandatory auto liability insurance coverage requirement. This program is now being rolled out statewide after a long test run in Austin. Here are some details from an article in the Dallas Morning News:
The program relies on a database containing the names of all insured drivers and their insurance companies – matched to their license-plate numbers and VINs. When a driver is involved in an accident or stopped for an infraction, the law-enforcement officer simply enters the license-plate number or VIN into the system to verify insurance coverage.
Fines can range up to $1,000 for a second offense, and those who take no action can be arrested.
Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas said a large number of drivers could be affected based on early reports about the number of uninsured.
“Troopers tell us that some areas of the state may have more than half of their drivers uninsured – and that’s scary news for everyone else on our roadways,” he said, noting that even some areas of Dallas appear to have uninsured rates approaching 50 percent.
Even though proof of insurance must be furnished to get a license renewal or safety inspection, enforcement of the law has been difficult. Millions of motorists skirt the requirement by using counterfeit insurance cards or obtaining a month’s coverage of insurance to get an ID card, then canceling the policy once they get their licenses renewed.
How Texas Sure works
Officers check, via a state database, whether drivers pulled over for violations or in accidents have insurance. If not, they are subject to:
- First offense: A fine of $175 to $350 and placement in the Texas Driver Responsibility Program, requiring the driver to pay an extra $250 a year to the state for three years.
- Subsequent offenses: A fine of $350 to $1,000 as well as driver’s license and vehicle registration suspension, which can be lifted only if the driver obtains insurance for at least two years. Those who rack up multiple offenses and take no action are subject to arrest.