A bill that would require Mississippians to prove they have vehicle liability insurance before they could renew their auto tags cleared committee Tuesday and heads to the full House.
“No insurance, no tag,” said House Insurance Chairman Gary Chism, R-Columbus. “That’s how we’re going to do it. (Department of Revenue) has a new computer system and every county clerk’s office will be on it by Nov. 17. This (bill) would go into effect July 1, 2018.
“Just like you have to pay your garbage bill before you get a new tag, you would have to show proof of insurance before you could get one.”
House Bill 319 was authored by Rep. Patricia Willis, R-Diamondhead. It would require people to show proof of liability insurance before renewing an auto tag, not for new tags for newly purchased vehicles.
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“Many people asked me about it and I felt like it was time to take a step further to make sure people are complying with the law,” Willis said.
Mandatory auto insurance is an age-old battle in the Mississippi Legislature, and an estimated 25 to 30 percent of Mississippi motorists drive uninsured, costing other motorists in insurance premiums and after wrecks with the uninsured.
Mississippi has had a compulsory auto liability insurance law since 2000, but it has not been strongly enforced for much of its life. That is expected to begin to change in July, from a law the Legislature passed in 2012. It required the Department of Public Safety to create the computerized Mississippi Vehicle Insurance Verification System.
Similar to Alabama’s system and run by the same vendor, it will be used by Highway Patrol troopers and other law enforcement to check a motorist’s insurance status. After several delays, the system is expected to be running by July.
Insurance industry leaders have said they support efforts on compulsory auto insurance, provided the computer systems used gives accurate information.