Incidents such as this have sparked a new legislation in the State of Missouri. A resident of Jasper County was driving her car in Joplin, Missouri when she met a vehicular accident involving an Oklahoman driver. While the latter was at fault, authorities could not hold said motorist for having no insurance simply because the vehicle was registered out-of-state. The sad part is, the local driver did not have coverage for collision nor the finance to have her car fixed.
According to state Senator Gary Nodler, this is exactly the “loophole” which ignited the introduction of a bill aimed at expanding and strengthening the state’s auto insurance laws. Along with state Representative Tom Flanigan, a bill emanating from the legislature’s two houses would try to include liability even for out-of-state drivers who ply Missouri roads.
Nodler stated that in order to be fair to all drivers of the state who adhere to the law, the weakness to the current auto insurance system as illustrated by the incident must be finally dealt with. He noted that even if the driver mentioned was doing everything the state asked of her — from paying taxes, keeping her registration updated, and to maintaining insurance, still “she was left helpless.”
By reading the text of Senate Bill 902 and House Bill 1996, the salient point includes prohibition of non-resident drivers from operating a motor vehicle in the state unless the non-resident maintains or adheres to the financial responsibility laws of the state of their residence. This would allow Missouri law enforcers to hold accountable out-of-state drivers who does not have auto insurance. It must be noted that 50 states have state minimum insurance requirements although such differs in the amount of liability insurance.
It also reads that a non-resident who fails to maintain financial responsibility would be guilty of Class C misdemeanor. This means that a driver adjudged guilty of such may be punished with a fine not exceeding $500. It may be a very minor offense but still, the public could view the record of such an infraction of the law for up to seven years. Also, their driving privileges in Missouri would be suspended. The Director of Revenue of the State would also “notify the official in charge of the issuance of licenses and registration certificates in the state in which such non-resident resides.”
Nodler said that he is hopeful that the General Assembly would join Flanigan in their quest into bring the much needed reform and equity in the state’s auto insurance law. The legislation, he added, would enable authorities to take action into ensuring that such uninsured drivers would finally be held accountable.