Topic:
STATISTICAL INFORMATION; CRIME; AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE; MOTOR VEHICLES;
Location:
INSURANCE - MOTOR VEHICLE;

OLR Research Report


November 16, 2005

 

2005-R-0863

UNINSURED DRIVERS

By: Janet L. Kaminski, Associate Legislative Attorney

You asked what the penalties are for driving without motor vehicle insurance, when the fines were last increased, and how many offenses have been reported for driving without the required insurance.

SUMMARY

Connecticut has two statutes that make it illegal for a motor vehicle owner to operate or permit the operation of his vehicle without the insurance the law requires. It appears that the police have some discretion in deciding under which statute to charge a person operating an uninsured private passenger motor vehicle. (A third statute imposing a penalty specific to the owner of an uninsured vehicle with a commercial registration is effective January 1, 2006.)

One law carries a fine between $100 and $1,000 (CGS 14-213b). The legislature established this fine in 1981 and has not changed it since. There were 23,861 reported offenses of this statute in FY 04 and 24,135 in FY 05. The law also subjects violators to license and registration suspension.

The other law subjects a violator to imprisonment up to three months, a fine up to $500, or both. The legislature established this penalty in 1972 and has not changed it since. There were 6,896 reported offenses of this statute in FY 04 and 7,085 in FY 05.

PENALTIES

CGS 14-213b

The owner of a private passenger motor vehicle or vehicle with a combination or commercial registration registered or required to be registered in Connecticut is prohibited from operating or permitting the operation of the vehicle without maintaining the insurance required by law (CGS 14-213b). If the court convicts the owner of violating this statute, it will fine him between $100 and $1,000. The legislature established this fine in 1981 and has not changed it since (PA 81-217).

The law also requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend the owner's registration and driver's license for one month for a first conviction and six months for subsequent convictions (CGS 14-213b(c)). An uninsured motorist whose registration has been suspended may also have his license plates confiscated and vehicle impounded (CGS 14-12h).

CGS 38a-371

The owner of a private passenger motor vehicle required to be registered in Connecticut who operates it or permits it to be operated without maintaining the insurance required by law is guilty of a class C misdemeanor (imprisonment up to three months, a fine up to $500, or both) (CGS 38a-371(d)). The legislature established this penalty in 1972 and has not changed it since (PA 72-273).

PA 05-3, October 25 Special Session

Effective January 1, 2006, an owner of a vehicle with a commercial registration who knowingly operates or permits the operation of the vehicle without the required insurance is guilty of a class D felony (PA 05-3, Oct. 25 Spec. Sess). For a class D felony, a person faces imprisonment up to five years, a fine up to $ 5,000, or both.

OFFENSES AND DISPOSITIONS

Table 1 shows offenses by disposition for illegally operating a motor vehicle without maintaining the required minimum insurance (CGS 14-213b). Table 2 shows offenses by disposition for failure to insure a private motor vehicle (CGS 38a-371). The data is from the Connecticut Judicial Department.

Table 1: Illegal Operation of a Motor Vehicle without Minimum Insurance (CGS 14-213b)

 

Fiscal Year 2004

Fiscal Year 2005

TOTAL OFFENSES

23,861

24,135

Convictions

563

413

Guilty Pleas

1,841

1,991

Bond Forfeiture

158

177

Failure to Appear

3,679

3,944

Jury – Guilty

0

1

Jury - Not Guilty

1

0

Judge – Not Guilty

3

0

Nolles (not prosecuted)

17,616

17,609

Table 2: Failure to Insure a Private Motor Vehicle (CGS 38a-371)

 

Fiscal Year 2004

Fiscal Year 2005

TOTAL OFFENSES

6,896

7,085

Convictions

103

61

Guilty Pleas

117

139

Bond Forfeiture

16

12

Failure to Appear

848

947

Jury – Guilty

0

0

Jury - Not Guilty

0

0

Judge – Not Guilty

2

0

Nolles (not prosecuted)

5,810

5,926

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