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‘Clerical error’ delays towing cars of TN’s uninsured drivers

This past summer, the Tennessee General Assembly came out swinging at uninsured drivers after one of them killed an insured Memphis driver last summer. Tennessee Rep. William Lamberth, (R) Cottontown, and Sen. Bill Ketron, (R) Murfreesboro, introduced companion bills that would triple the misdemeanor fine on drivers who violate the state’s financial responsibility law (proof of insurance). The law, named James Lee Atwood Jr. Law, was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam in June without hesitation. It is the most aggressive package of penalties against the state’s uninsured drivers since mandatory liability insurance was mandated in Tennessee in 1977.

What the Law Does

  • It triples the minimum fine from $100 to $300 for not carrying proof of auto insurance. This is the first of three major changes to be rolled out over the next year.
  • It makes it a Class A misdemeanor for knowingly providing false proof of insurance. This is punishable by up to 11 months, 29 days in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines.
  • It will allow police to tow a vehicle if its owner fails to produce proof of insurance.
  • County clerks will be required to refuse vehicle registration and tag renewal to drivers who don’t provide proof of insurance.

The law originally took effect on July 1, 2015. However, because of a clerical error, police discretion to tow vehicles has been delayed until January 1, 2016. The state of Tennessee is amongst the highest in the nation for drivers who drive without insurance– there are an estimated 660,000 uninsured motorists (approximately one in five drivers).

Meanwhile, the state is also paying a third-party vendor to create an electronic insurance database, and will next year start requiring insurers to submit up-to-date information on Tennessee drivers.

What If I Am Hit By an Uninsured Driver?

Drivers in Tennessee are required to have liability insurance in the amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. If the driver does not have insurance, you may still sue him or her. Unfortunately however, this option is only available if you believe the at-fault driver has income or assets sufficient to cover your losses. Otherwise, you will simply have a judgment against someone without the ability to pay it. The second option is to seek recovery from your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, if you have it. Otherwise, you will be responsible for paying your own medical bills and costs.

Nashville Uninsured Motorists & Hit & Run Driver Attorneys

The damages that result from a motor vehicle accident can be catastrophic, and we at Calhoun Law, PLC understand how confusing and complex car accident litigation can be– especially when you have been affected by someone else’s negligence. Our firm is dedicated to protecting your rights and will pursue compensation against all responsible parties. If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, contact us in Nashville today so that we can ensure that you and your loved ones are properly compensated for you injuries.

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