Local courts see little effect from insurance law change

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 9, 2001

After more than three months into a new law that will eventuallybring more funding to courts across the state, little change hasbeen noticed in local court rooms.

“It really has not affected us yet. We’ve only had a fewtickets,” said Lincoln County Justice Court Clerk Jan Oster aboutthe compulsory insurance law.

The new law, which went into effect Jan. 1, applies to allMississippi motor vehicle operators and owners. It requires thatall motor vehicles operated in the state have liability insurancecoverage with a minimum coverage of $10,000 per person peraccident, $20,000 per person for bodily injury and $5,000 peraccident for property damage.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Under the law, drivers are required to keep proof of insurancein their vehicle. Authorities may not stop a vehicle for the solepurpose of verifying insurance, but officers are required to checkfor insurance during traffic stops and accident investigations.

Brookhaven police officers have already issued citations toaround 50 drivers for failure to show proof of insurance.

Failure of the owner or operator of the vehicle to show proof ofinsurance is a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by a $1,000fine and suspension of driving privileges for one year

Motorists have a chance to reduce the fine to $100 if they areable to show proof of insurance by their court date.

“I think only one person had to pay the full amount because hecouldn’t get insurance,” said Municipal Court Deputy Clerk PhyllisWatkins.

During the first six months of the new law, motorists have beengiven a break by most law enforcement officers while everyoneconforms to the mandatory insurance requirement.

“It’s sort of like an adjustment period right now,” said Oster,who oversees Mississippi Highway Patrol and Lincoln CountySheriff’s Department citations going through in justice court.