Driving Without Insurance

All insurance lawyers will tell you to make sure there is insurance on your auto. But guess what, criminal lawyers will tell you the same.
Let’s start with the insurance lawyers. A recent article from the Claims Journal discusses what is happening in the State of Louisiana. The article is titled, Louisiana Using New Tactics to Collect Fines for Insurance Lapses.
Louisiana has implemented new ways of collecting fines from people the state believes are driving without insurance.
The Advocate reports the recently formed Office of Debt Recovery has the authority to extract money from bank accounts, intercept tax refunds and recommend that a person’s state-issued professional license be suspended. These are all brand new tactics the state was unable to employ before it was created by the Legislature in 2013.
The state’s Office of Motor Vehicles has capitalized on the Office of Debt Recovery’s powers, as the OMV has mailed over 1.2 million letters to people they say were driving without insurance. OMV Deputy Commissioner Staci Hoyt said the office has collected $22.5 million of the projected $444 million owed to the agency.
Louisiana’s Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kizzy Payton said the Office of Debt Recovery has also collected over $5 million for the OMV since the office gained jurisdiction over the fines on Dec. 15. On that date, the agency took over 555,628 of the OMV’s files, which represent nearly $292 million in OMV debt.
Payton says the agency has sent letters informing people their debts have been transferred to its office. She says the office hasn’t recommended suspending anyone’s license yet, but the agency will soon begin offsetting tax refunds.
OMV’s newly appointed commissioner Karen St. Germain acknowledged that the OMV notices can be “unnerving” to some residents, but says the agency is only following the law by collecting debt.
Hoyt says the organization is trying to be responsive to people’s inquiries and concerns by keeping call lines open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Now, here is what the criminal lawyers can tell you.
Texas has a law titled, Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act. This law requires that a minimal amount of insurance be maintained on any vehicle driven on Texas highways. Violation of the law is a discussed in Section 601.008 of the Texas Transportation Code. But that is not the worst of it. Violation of this law can also result in a license suspension under Section 521.296. Then if a person gets caught driving on that suspended license they face the criminal charge of Driving on a Suspended License. The punishment for driving on a suspended license is found in Section 521.457. This is a Class B misdemeanor and can result in 6 months in jail, a $2,000.00 fine, plus a further license suspension and fines and surcharges.