Proposed Bill Would Reduce Number of Florida Uninsured Drivers

Florida has long been the state with the largest proportion of uninsured drivers on its roadways of any state in the country. Florida state law enforcement officials and legislators have tried numerous ways of reducing the number of uninsured drivers on the state’s roads over the years but have had little to no success. Instead, Florida’s uninsured driver rate has actually increased year over year, according to the most recent nationwide statistics on uninsured drivers, despite these efforts. The situation is prompting a Wellington lawmaker to try a different way of solving the problem by putting more information regarding a motorist’s current insurance status into the hands of Florida law enforcement personnel during a traffic stop.

According to a report from the St. Augustine Record, given the state’s huge problem with uninsured drivers, this new solution to an old problem would expand the information available to law enforcement when a routine traffic stop is conducted by police or law enforcement personnel to include information regarding the current status of the driver’s insurance. Under a proposed bill introduced for consideration during the spring 2019 legislative session, Florida would expand a database that law enforcement officers can access whenever a motorist is pulled over to include the motorist’s insurance status as of January 1, 2022.

What Information Is Currently Available to Florida Law Enforcement When a Motorist is Pulled Over?

When a law enforcement officer pulls over a motorist for speeding or some other traffic violation in Florida, the officer always will ask for the driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. When the law enforcement officer goes back to his or her vehicle to access a real-time database of all licensed drivers and vehicles maintained by the State of Florida, the law enforcement officer can tell whether the driver is licensed and whether the vehicle is properly registered with the state. This database does not, however, provide an officer with information as to whether that motorist’s insurance is active or not. Therefore, a motorist could hand an insurance card to police that indicated the driver had insurance when actually the coverage had lapsed. The officer thus has no way of knowing whether the driver has insurance or not using the current Florida database.

Under the legislation introduced by Democratic state representative Matt Willhite of Wellington, the state would be required to maintain a database that would collect information from insurers on a weekly basis as to the insurance coverage status for all of their policyholders in Florida; police could then look up this information when making a traffic stop and tell whether the driver is carrying insurance as required by state law or not. A number of states have tried similar approaches, including Oklahoma, which saw its uninsured motorist rate plunge from 24 percent in 2006 to 10.5 percent in 2015 after implementation, according to statistics from insurance industry group the Insurance Research Council. Thirteen other states share access to a similar type of database that Florida could simply join, according to Willhite.

How Bad is the Uninsured Driver Problem in Florida?

 Florida is the state with the highest uninsurance rate in the nation at more than 26.7%, according to statistics from personal finance website Value Penguin. This put Florida at the highest rate of any state by far, with Maine the lowest at less than 5%. The statistics also showed that the uninsured rate in the Sunshine State has increased over the past several years, with the rate at 24.0% in 2009 and 26.7% in 2015, the latest year for which complete statistics were available. This is clearly a major problem for Florida and is an even bigger problem for Floridians who may be in an accident with a driver who is not carrying insurance, because an accident victim may then have no way to recover the damages and losses the victim suffers as a result of the uninsured driver’s negligence.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley

Given the large percentage of uninsured drivers in Florida, the chances are high for Florida motorists that, if they are involved in an accident, the other driver may not be carrying insurance coverage. However, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing those who have been injured in a variety of motor vehicle and truck accidents. In our experience representing thousands of motor vehicle accident victims, we have found ways to enable our clients to recover the full damages they are entitled to under Florida law even if the driver that hit our client was not carrying insurance at the time of the accident. We are aggressive, out-of-the-box thinkers who will not rest until we have obtained justice for our clients; so if you or a loved one have been injured by a driver who was not carrying insurance in Florida, please call us today for a free consultation at (877) 694-6079 or email us at contact@schwedlawfirm.com.