Driving Without Insurance, By State – Insurance Requirements

Automobile insurance is required by nearly every state in the nation. Those that don't specify insurance do mandate financial liability for all at-fault drivers. Thus, even drivers who live in states where insurance isn't mandated should consider buying an auto policy. The monthly savings from not paying insurance premiums may be quickly wiped out in the event of an accident.

Drivers in all states should consider carrying at least a minimum liability policy. These policies help maintain safety on the roads and ensure that everyone is covered in the event of an accident. While it’s recommended that drivers carry more coverage, such as a collision or a comprehensive policy, liability coverage is all that states require. That is because, in the event of an accident, the victims need to be covered, especially in cases if the accident causes bodily harm.

Insurance is required by states because, when everyone carries coverage there should be enough money to cover the victims of every accident. They can not only have their car repaired but also visit an emergency room or other medical facility as needed. Though some may claim that mandated coverage is draconian, everyone benefits when everyone has a policy.

No Fault Insurance Law

No-fault insurance laws are state statutes that are aimed at helping lower overall insurance costs. They do this by taking smaller accident claims out of the court system. They also eliminate second-party claims from most automobile accidents. This is achieved by having minor accident damages paid by each driver's own insurer whether they are at-fault or not. Thus, the victim's insurance policy covers their crumpled fenders, bodily injuries, etc. In this way, each driver bears liability for their own damages, regardless of who caused an accident, and they are thus barred from litigating smaller matters.

However, each state sets its own limits for how much an insurer will pay out for damages to its policyholder. When the damages exceed these limits, accident victims may resort to filing a claim against the at-fault party's insurance. They might even file a civil suit in hopes of remuneration for their injuries.

Traffic Violation Points Systems

Every state governs transportation systems in slightly different ways. For automobile drivers, states tend to assign a value to each type of driving infraction. For each infraction, the driver's record reflects a certain number of points, depending on the infraction. For instance, New York state assigns 3 points to speeders who exceed the limit by 10mph or less. Speeders who exceed the limit by 40mph receive 11 points and are subject to an immediate suspension. On the other hand, drivers who are found driving without a seat belt receive no points on their license.

These points are often factored in when insurance premiums are calculated, with more points resulting in higher premiums. Points are deducted over time, however, but when a driver accrues too many points within a set time frame, such as 18 months, they are subject to license suspension or revocation. Furthermore, when drivers exceed a set number of points or commit certain infractions their insurance company might require a higher coverage level, such as a comprehensive policy to lower their risk.

Driving Without a License, By State

Every state requires that all motor vehicle operators be licensed by the state. This ensures that every driver has passed a written and driving test. This system also provides a level of accountability, as each driver's license accrues a number of points when they are found in violation of traffic laws. Therefore, states usually consider driving without a license a serious infraction. The severity of the punishment increases depending on the nature of the crime and whether or not there were any injuries while this particular crime was being committed.

When drivers are pulled over and cannot produce a license because they left it at home or some similar circumstance, they receive a light punishment or none at all if they can produce proof of licensure within a set time frame. This sort of infraction usually warrants a fix-it ticket which will be nullified when the driver produces their license in a court proceeding or through some other sort of arrangement. To help allay such difficulties, some drivers carry a photocopy of their license in their car in case they forget their real license at home.

However, if the driver is operating on a suspended or revoked license, the penalty might increase dramatically. Some states, such as Washington State, may sentence a non-licensed driver to jail. Other states might impound the offender's car, levy fines, or charge the driver with a felony.

Phone Use While Driving, By State

Cellphone use while driving has been a controversial social issue since the advent of the truly portable cellphone. The addition of text messaging made the situation even worse. Nowadays, people can use their smartphones to check the weather, email, maps, social media posts, and the latest news. When these luxuries and conveniences are indulged while driving, serious problems can arise.

To respond to this vehicular threat, many states have banned drivers from using their phones while they operate their car. That is because when a driver is traveling at, say, 60 miles per hour and takes their eyes off the road for just a few seconds to check a text message, they might not see brake lights, an errant deer, or a treacherous pothole in the road, among other hazards. When traveling at any rate of speed, a distracted driver is a danger to everyone on the road. After all it only takes a few seconds for a child to run into a neighborhood street.

Even before these so-called distracted driver laws are passed in a jurisdiction, drivers may be found at-fault if it's proven that they were texting or otherwise using their cellphone while driving. Even if the law isn’t specifically written for distracted driving, their distracted driving behavior might be enough to prove negligence or they may have broken some other specific law. Distracted drivers might drive significantly above or below the speed limit, cross into another lane illegally, and have been known to run stop signs and red lights.

Speeding Laws

Speeding laws are ever-present on the highways and byways all across the United States, and they've been with us since the first motorcars took to the roads. In the United States, the first traffic laws were enacted in Connecticut. Their first traffic laws restricted speed to 12 miles per hour in town and 15mph on country roads. In many cases, cars back then couldn't go much faster in any case, unless a hill was involved. Later, in 1974, the federal government instituted a national maximum speed limit of 55 miles per hour.

Nowadays, every town may have three or more different speed limits, depending on the road, and states govern many other driving behaviors. These laws are written and passed to help safeguard everyone on the roads. They not only result in tickets for offending drivers, but they can help determine liability in the case of an accident. In most cases, when a driver is in violation of a speeding law, for instance, they will be found at-fault in any resulting accident. Naturally, other factors are in play and other violations may supersede a speeding violation, but every driver should strive to follow the law in every situation regardless of any extenuating circumstance.

Car Restraints and Seatbelt Laws

Seat belts have been a part of vehicular history since 1885 when they were first patented by New York's Edward Claghorn. However, it was not until 1984 that New York State passed the first mandatory seat belt law. Child safety seats preceded their adult counterparts and were first mandated by the 1979 Tennessee state legislature. Since these laws were enacted, car safety belts and child safety seats have both improved dramatically. Where cars once only had airplane-style lap belts, they now have cross-body harnesses and child car seats are designed to keep little ones safely secure.

These laws are designed to protect drivers and their passengers. When used properly, these safety devices reduce injuries, liability, and lawsuits. In fact, when injury claims are reduced, overall insurance costs often fall. Furthermore, families are less likely to lose a loved one in an accident, and drivers and passengers may be able to walk away unscathed from even dramatic collisions.

Vehicular Homicide Laws

Cars are very dangerous, and they can take lives. For that reason, state legislatures have enacted vehicular homicide laws to help hold drivers accountable when they take a life, even on accident. These laws treat automobiles as lethal weapons. That way it’s easy for prosecutors to levy charges when drivers are negligent and their actions result in a death.

Every state in the United States, with the exception of Alaska, Montana, and Arizona, has its own statutes regarding vehicular homicide. These laws vary widely. For instance, Georgia prosecutors can charge negligent drivers with either 1st or 2nd degree manslaughter, depending on the circumstances. In Georgia, and elsewhere, prosecutors consider factors such as whether the driver was drinking, if they fled the scene, and the overall character of their driving. That is, a speeding, reckless driver who passes a stopped school bus and kills a child is likely to be prosecuted more harshly than a non-speeding driver whose car hydroplanes and collides with another car, or pedestrian.

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