Lawmakers mull plan to get uninsured drivers off the road
Police and lawmakers are implementing an aggressive new plan to get unlicensed and uninsured drivers off the road.
Hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers are driving on suspended licenses, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and putting you at risk.
"Kind of scary," said one driver. "It's too much. You want to drive, you gotta play by the rules."
Troopers with license plate-reading cameras pull violators over all day long. "It's alarming," ISP Master Trooper Shana Kennedy told Eyewitness News earlier this summer. "How many people are out here suspended for failure to provide financial responsibility, which affects all of us."
The licenses are suspended because the drivers don't have car insurance.
It may start with a car accident or a stop for speeding. The officer discovers they have no insurance. Their license is then suspended. All they do is go to the court, pay a fee, and get their licenses back.
But the Bureau of Motor Vehicles says thousands every year don't do that. This year alone, over $11 million in fees that should be paid, haven't been. But the drivers may still be driving.
"Probably about ten percent of the premiums you pay is for uninsured people who don't have coverage and you have to cover for them. So this is a large issue for Indiana," said State Senator Jim Merritt.
The state is out money, too - $130 million in fees those drivers haven't paid over several years.
That's why lawmakers are meeting this summer to look for answers. Some possible options include taking away license plates from cars of suspended owners or letting the BMV take drivers to small claims court to collect fees.
Merritt doesn't like confiscation, but says, "amnesty, like we did with the income tax of a couple years ago. We gotta bring these people back in."
BMV officials say it "appreciates anything the legislature does to allow BMV to collect the fees."
Another idea - an officer could put a special sticker on a repeat violator's plate.
"They have to take the license plate to the bureau, pay the fee and get a new license plate," Merritt said, kind of shaming the violator into paying.
There are a lot of options on the table. The legislature could take up the issue in the next session.