So you get pulled over, and you know you’ve let your car insurance lapse. Johnny Law is walking up to your window, just aching to bust you for driving without insurance. But if you don’t tell him that you don’t have active insurance, he’ll never know, right? Wrong. In some states, police officers now have instant access to a national database that is maintained and updated by the Motor Vehicles Department. This database allows officers to run a check on your license plate to determine if you have insurance. In this post, we’ll explain more about this system.
How It Works
The states in which this database is accessible to law enforcement agents have laws that require insurance companies to notify the DMV when policies are opened or canceled. For instance, if you were to purchase a new policy, your insurer would automatically update the database to indicate that the vehicle has the appropriate coverage to comply with state law. If a policy were canceled because of overdue payments or other reasons, the insurer would likewise notify the DMV that coverage has lapsed on the vehicle.
If you live in one of the states with this database and are driving without insurance, you could face serious consequences if you get caught. You might have to pay steep fines, have your license or registration revoked, or even have your car impounded. The consequences of driving without insurance will vary from state to state.
The States without the Database
For those of you who live in a state without the DMV insurance database, don’t think you’re out of the woods yet. A police officer can always pull you over and simply request that you present proof of insurance. The officer then has to verify the legitimacy of the coverage by calling the number on the insurance card or issuing the driver a citation if no proof of insurance is presented. If a citation is given, the driver would have to provide proof of insurance for the time of the traffic stop to a judge in court.
The Bottom Line
Whether they look it up in a database or just ask for proof of insurance the old-fashioned way, the police will find out one way or another if you have car insurance. Rather than risk the serious penalties that come with driving without insurance, you’re better of finding an affordable policy that meets your state’s insurance requirements. That way, you can comply with the law and protect yourself against massive financial losses.
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