Uninsured Motorist Epidemic
Posted on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 at 6:29 am
According to this Clarion Ledger Article, 28% of Mississippi drivers are operating motor vehicles without insurance. This is a problem that is an epidemic in its proportions. That being said, I have mixed emotions about a bill (HB480) which was recently introduced by an Insurance Agent from Columbus, Representative Gary Chism.
While this proposed legislation looks like it would help reduce the number of uninsured motorists on Mississippi highways, it raises concerns about its potential for abuse by law enforcement. Basically, a policeman could run your plates and determine whether or not you are currently insured and pull you over if you are not current. The fear is that law enforcement officers will be tempted to use this law as a pretext to make otherwise illegal stops. Here, past behavior by some bad apples in law enforcement has made it difficult for us to make our streets safer.
The Question: What is the overriding concern? Protecting our right to be free from illegal stops, search and seizure; or protecting innocent motorists from the results of being injured by an uninsured motorist?
I am truly conflicted about this bill but the injury clients I regularly represent would benefit from a law like this. While I expect my crimnal defense lawyer friends to disagree with me, because this bill would likely benefit my clients, I would have to support it. However, I would propose an amendment that would make it a crime for any law enforcement officer to use this law as a pretext for a stop. And, I would give this provision some teeth by also creating a specific cause of action against law enforcement officers who violate it. How workable a provision like this would be needs exploring. Whether or not our legislature will take the time to explore it is another question.
With 29% of our drivers operating without auto insurance, this is an epidemic that just cannot be ignored.
I will write another article on how to be sure you are prepared for a wreck with an uninsured motorist. A previous post is linked Here in my “Do you have enough insurance?” article.
Call my Law Office at (662) 533-9111 if you would like to visit with an attorney about insurance coverage issues. We will be happy to talk with you.