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Liability: Strong enforcement of new insurance law cited

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Jan. 10, 2001
Area law enforcement officials say they will continue aggressive enforcement of a new law requiring motorists to carry proof of liability insurance in their vehicles.
City police officials said they also have issued a high number of motor vehicle insurance citations more than 30 since Jan. 1.
Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department said people who haven't bought liability insurance are either apathetic to the new law or are working class residents who can't afford the monthly payments.
A motorist who loses the gamble could face a $1,000 fine, an assessment that could cost more than liability insurance. The stiffer punishment includes a one-year license suspension sentence.
Under the new law (63-15-4 in the Mississippi Annotated Code), motorists must keep an insurance card in the car 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.
Sollie said the law is clear in that officers cannot make stops for the sole purpose of verifying insurance. Citations are written only after a motorist is stopped and cited for a primary offense, such as speeding, he said.
If the driver shows proof that liability insurance has been bought 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.
Rep. Mary Ann Stevens, 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 mtodd@meridianstar.com.

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