Compulsory insurance deadline looms Jan. 1
By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Drivers caught without liability insurance on their cars after Jan. 1 could be fined $1,000 and lose their licenses for a year.
The new regulation is part of House Bill 621, passed during the Mississippi Legislature's 2000 session.
Under the new law (63-15-4 in the Mississippi Annotated Code), drivers must keep an insurance card in their cars at all times as proof of liability coverage with minimum limits of $10,000/$20,000 for bodily injury and $5,000 for property damage.
Police officers, deputies and highway patrolmen will be required to inspect insurance cards during all traffic stops after Jan. 1.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said the law makes clear that officers cannot stop drivers for the sole purpose of verifying insurance.
Failure to have proof of insurance in the car is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and suspension of driving privileges for up to one year.
If the driver shows proof that liability insurance has been purchased by the court date, the fine can be reduced to $100. If the driver can prove liability insurance was in effect at the time the citation was written, all fines and court costs will be waived.
Waddell Robinson of Fleming, Robinson and Parker Insurance Agency said the new law has not yet resulted in increased sales of car insurance.
Justice Court Judge M. Robbie Robinson said he thinks the law will decrease the number of civil cases involving accidents.
Rep. Mary Ann Stevens, D-West, who authored the bill, said she encourages all drivers to maintain uninsured motorist coverage because "there will always be those who will not comply with the law."
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.