In an effort to combat the number of deadly incidents involving uninsured drivers in Tennessee, State Representative William Lamberth and Senator Bill Ketron have introduced two bills that would increase the misdemeanor fine from $100 to $300 for those who violate the state’s proof of insurance law. Drivers who fail to have proof of insurance will also be required to pay reinstatement fees once they’ve gotten their insurance.
In addition to the increase in fines and having to pay for reinstatement, the bills would also set up a system that tracks and checks vehicles at random to make sure they have insurance. Lamberth announced that drivers who are found to be uninsured through these checks will be given a warning that if they fail to insure their vehicle, their registration will be revoked. Moreover, Lamberth hopes to extend the bill so that the police can seize tags and tow vehicles without insurance when they are cited.
These bills were drafted after a Memphis driver was killed last year by a driver who was uninsured. If passed, the new measure will be called the James Lee Atwood Jr. Law in honor of the deceased victim.
In July 2014, Atwood was killed by a wreck by another driver, Roderick Maggett, who crossed the centerline and crashed into Atwood head on. Maggett had no insurance, wasn’t wearing a seat belt and had a 6-year-old unrestrained in the back seat. The report stated that Maggett fell asleep at the wheel.
He was charged with vehicular homicide, violating Tennessee’s proof of insurance law and failing to restrain a child properly. Maggett had already been cited for not having proof of insurance earlier that day. Had Tennessee already had the James Lee Atwood Jr. Law, police would have had the right to impound Maggett’s vehicle during the first traffic stop and the second accident could have been avoided.
Tennessee currently holds the number 6 position for most uninsured motorists – meaning that roughly one million Tennessee drivers are currently uninsured. Memphis City Court Clerk’s Traffic Violations Bureau records indicate that 46,727 drivers were cited for failing to show proof of insurance in 2013. This number decreased to 30,439 last year.
Getting in a car accident is stressful enough. Your headache can be increased exponentially if you’re involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or is underinsured. If this has happened to you, contact a Memphis car accident attorney at Gilreath & Associates for a free consultation.
Visit our knowledge center to learn what to do in case of a car accident with an uninsured driver.