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Stricter Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Illinois

As the days shorten, school resumes and summer vacations are distant memories, more people are back on the roads in the routine daily commute. The chances are that at some point in your life, you will be involved in a car accident while on the road. A recent Insurance Research Council survey found 15 percent of Illinois drivers are uninsured.

One young Illinois woman fought for a change in legislation and stiffer penalties for uninsured drivers following an accident with an uninsured driver that almost left her dead. In June 2010, Ashley Lacey was involved in an accident with a car that was parked in the middle of the road and had no lights on. The driver of the other vehicle did not have insurance and had prior convictions for driving without insurance.

Ashley almost died as a result of the collision. The uninsured driver received a fine for $575, $275 for illegal parking and $300 for driving without insurance. Ashley and her family asked their State Representative to author legislation to increase the penalty for repeat driving without insurance offenses. Governor Pat Quinn recently signed the bill.

Increased penalties for multiple uninsured driving convictions

In January 2012, new penalties will go into effect for those convicted of multiple uninsured driving offenses. Under the amended statute,

  • Uninsured operation of a motor vehicle will remain a Class A misdemeanor, if another person is injured.
  • The court will impose an increased fine of $2,500, in addition to any possible jail time, if the uninsured driver causes bodily harm to another person and has been convicted of two or more violations of uninsured operation.
  • The fine for the third and subsequent uninsured driving convictions will also increase to $1,000 even if no injuries are caused by the uninsured driver.

The recent amendment is not Illinois' first attempt to increase the penalties for uninsured motorists. In 2006, a law took effect that mandated license suspension following a conviction for uninsured driving. An uninsured driving conviction results in suspended driving privileges for three months. After the suspension period is over a driver must pay a $100 reinstatement fee.

The Lacey family hopes the increased penalties will keep repeat uninsured drivers off the road. They do not want to see others injured by uninsured drivers who are only punished by a small slap on the wrist.

Vermont also recently increased the fines for driving without insurance from $100 to between $250 and $500. Fines in most states generally range from $150 to $500. Illinois now has one of the strictest penalties in the nation for driving uninsured.

Mandatory insurance requirement in Illinois

Every driver in Illinois is required to have liability insurance on his or her vehicle. The minimum amount of insurance required is:

  • $20,000 - injury or death of one person in an accident
  • $40,000 - injury or death of more than one person in an accident
  • $15,000 - damage to property if another person.

Drivers must always carry an insurance card in your vehicle to prove that you have insurance.

What to do if you are in an accident

If you are involved in an Illinois car accident, no matter how minor, get the insurance information from the other party. If they do not have their insurance information available then get their name, phone number, make and model of vehicle and license plate number.

You can also contact the Illinois Department of Transportation . The state will ask the other driver to provide proof of insurance. If the driver cannot prove of insurance the state will require the driver to post a bond or pay for the loss. The state may also suspend the uninsured driving privileges.

Illinois continues to address the issue of uninsured driving. However, 15 percent of the motorists on the road in Illinois continue to drive without insurance. This forces law-abiding drivers to pay more for additional uninsured motorist coverage in the case that a driver who causes an accident has no insurance coverage to pay for the cost of injuries and damage.

If you or a loved one is seriously injured in an automobile accident, you should consult with a personal injury lawyer, who will be able to review your insurance coverage, and investigate what insurance is available from the other party. A lawyer will also make sure that your rights are protected and you receive the compensation that you deserve.

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