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INSURANCE PREMIUM VIOLATIONS ON THE RISE

Well it looks like law enforcement and the auto insurance companies have done it again. They have managed to find a new way to crack down on drivers who allow their insurance to lapse due to non-payment.

Previously, drivers could get away with it for a period of time. When a driver failed to pay their premiums, insurance companies would notify the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles and, after a period of 30 days, the DMV would suspend that driver's registration. With the new automatic license plate scanners, a car with a suspended registration wouldn't stay on the road long before being spotted, pulled over, ticketed and towed. Very often, the driver would find him or herself in handcuffs on the way to jail too. While failure to pay one's insurance premium triggered the whole event, the charge would be Driving on a Suspended Registration, a violation of O.C.G.A. §40-6-15

Now, police no longer have to wait for a suspended registration as justification to seize unsuspecting drivers. Coordination between the government of the State of Georgia and the insurance companies now allow law enforcement to see when your insurance is cancelled BEFORE your automobile's registration gets suspended. Coupled with the automatic license plate scanners, this enables law enforcement to pull people over, who have otherwise violated no rule of the road, because the officer's computer screen tells him/her that the registered owner of the vehicle does not have valid insurance. Even if the driver has a valid insurance card on hand, he/she will very likely still be issued a citation for No Insurance, a violation of O.C.G.A. §40-6-10. They will have their vehicle towed and may find themselves in handcuffs on the way to jail.

As a criminal defense attorney who handles traffic citations and a personal injury attorney who handles auto accident cases, I'm bothered by the insurance industry's control over our state government for the purpose of forcing people to pay their insurance premiums. If the insurance industry did a better job of honoring their policy promises and adjusting personal injury and property damage claims more fairly, maybe I wouldn't feel this way. But, I see people's lives negatively impacted on both ends. The insurance industry gleefully sends law enforcement out to force you to pay your premiums and then they go out of their way to deny claims and offer injured parties settlements well below what people actually deserve.

It's not a fair fight. The insurance companies have law enforcement squarely on their side when it comes to getting their money. I hope you will consider having me on your side whether you're charged with one of the above offenses or hurt in a car accident. 

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