Weary of all the complaints from constituents about being stuck with bills from wrecks with uninsured drivers, a Vermont state lawmaker wants to discourage people from getting behind the wheel without vehicle insurance.
Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, said he is planning to introduce legislation that could result in $500 fines for driving without insurance. Existing Vermont law limits those fines to no more than $100.
Another provision in the bill would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to randomly check the insurance status of people classified as high-risk drivers.
Supporters say changes are needed to deter people from driving without insurance. They cite instances where people get insurance long enough for the vehicle inspection and then drop their coverage.
Opponents say that while they sympathize with those struck by uninsured motorists they don’t see a need to make changes to Vermont law because of the state’s low frequency of incidents involving wrecks with those uninsured. At six percent, the state has the second-lowest rate of uninsured drivers in the nation.
The effort can be considered by the Vermont General Assembly during the regular session that begins Jan. 8.
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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor