Car insurance is required in 49 states, and the District of Columbia. Today, there are still nearly 30 million Americans who for one reason or another choose to drive uninsured. Up until now, most of these uninsured drivers have managed stay under the radar. But all that may change soon.
Although not new, the popularity of automatic license plate recognition systems has been growing. These systems allow law enforcement access to their states uninsured motorists databases in real time. The use of these systems may soon change how police catch uninsured motorists.
Even though car insurance companies maintain state databases of uninsured drivers and have done so for years, they can do very little in helping law enforcement catch these drivers. That may soon be changing.
Currently in most states, police officers must call the toll-free number listed on driver insurance cards to verify their policy status. This process seems antiquated, tedious and not very efficient. But in a growing number of states, police are now using mobile, high speed cameras, called automatic license plate recognition cameras. These ALPR cameras make the task of finding uninsured drivers a lot easier.
Once a driver is pulled over, their plates are run and the inquiry is done in the blink of an eye. Uninsured drivers will no longer just be able to flash a phony, or expired insurance card and get away with it. With the plate already having been run, the officer will know if the insurance is legit.
So, what does it cost if you get caught driving without insurance? A first-time conviction can run you in the $500 to $1000 range and in West Virginia it can go up to a whopping $5,000. In addition, there could also be hundreds of dollars in fees associated with reinstating a suspended license or registration.
Those who still think it’s cheaper to drive without insurance may soon be in for a rude awakening.