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Most drivers in compliance with new law

Most motorists seem to be complying with the new compulsorymotor vehicle liability insurance law, but a few have not,according to authorities.

“We’ve already written some tickets on it as a secondaryviolation, but there are still a lot of violators out there,” saidLincoln County Sheriff Lynn Boyte.

The new law applies to all Mississippi motor vehicle operatorsand owners. It requires that all motor vehicles operated in thestate have a minimum coverage of $10,000 in liability insurance perperson per accident, $20,000 per person for bodily injury and$5,000 per accident for property damage.

Some motorists who waited until the last minute to apply forcoverage have been able to receive a slight break from lawenforcement officers.

“I’ve run into some people who have applied for it, but haven’tgotten insurance yet,” said Brookhaven Assistant Police ChiefArlustra “Pap” Henderson. “We’ve tried to be understanding becausewe want to work with the people.”

Under the law, which was passed during the 2000 MississippiLegislative session, drivers are required to keep proof ofinsurance in their vehicle. Authorities may not stop a vehicle forthe sole purpose of verifying insurance, but officers are requiredto check for insurance during traffic stops and accidentinvestigations.

In Lincoln County, around 20 citations for no proof of insurancehave been issued since the law went into effect Jan. 1.

The city court saw 15 cases Tuesday, and 14 of those people wereable to show proof of insurance at the time of their hearing, whichallowed the fine to be reduced from $1,000 to $100.

Failure of the owner or operator of the vehicle to show proof ofinsurance is a misdemeanor punishable by the fine and suspension ofdriving privileges for one year, upon conviction.

Mississippi Highway Patrol officers are warning drivers of theconsequences before issuing citations for the violation, saidLieutenant Charles R. Brill Jr.

Authorities said they have heard few complaints about thelaw.

“To my knowledge we haven’t really had any negative comments,but it does seem to be getting people’s attention,” saidHenderson.