Law enforcement ticketing uninsured motorists

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Darryl Enriquez
Sunday, June 19, 2011
— Local law enforcement agencies have written hundreds of tickets for operating without insurance or having no proof of insurance since the law went into effect in June 2010.

The Janesville Police Department has issued 1,210 tickets so far in 2011, and the Rock County Sheriff’s Office has written 76 tickets, officials said.

“We think it’s a basic responsibility that anybody who is going to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Wisconsin should have a minimum level of auto insurance,” Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said.

The law aims to force motorists without insurance to get a policy, even if only the minimum required. The citation for failure to carry insurance documents is $10. Uninsured drivers can be fined up to $500.

Minimum insurance requirements for drivers in Wisconsin include:

-- $50,000 per person injured and $100,000 per accident.

-- $25,000 for property damage.

-- $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for uninsured or underinsured motorists.

The hope is that more motorists at fault in traffic accidents will be insured so victims will be reimbursed for medical expenses or property damage stemming from wrecks, Spoden said.

Rock County Sheriff’s Capt. Gary Groelle said uninsured motorists cause premiums to rise for others to help pay for the uninsured. He said most drivers have followed the new law.

Spoden said motorists still are on the roads without insurance because they have bad driving records that make insurance too expensive. He said other drivers can’t afford insurance, although insurance companies will work with low-income drivers.

Rock County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Troy Knudson said citations most often are written after motorists are stopped for traffic violations or are involved in accidents.

Janesville Deputy Police Chief John Olsen said officers have gotten used to requesting insurance information after stops.

In Walworth County, the sheriff’s office reported that in 2010 it issued 210 tickets for driving without proof of insurance and 200 tickets for driving without insurance.

Through the first five months of 2011, deputies issued 114 tickets for not having proof of insurance and 126 for not being insured.

Undersheriff Kurt Picknell said deputies routinely inquire about motorists’ insurance during traffic stops and accident investigations.

“The legislative intent and goal is voluntary compliance,” Picknell said. “Absent that, the law provides these citable traffic offenses.”

Lake Geneva police in 2010 issued nine tickets for no insurance and three for driving without proof of insurance. So far his year, police issued the identical number of tickets for the same offenses as 2010, Chief Michael Rasmussen said.

“We have a lot of minor motor vehicle accidents where checking for proof of insurance is procedure just like checking for driver’s licenses and outstanding warrants,” Rasmussen said.

Elkhorn police have written 56 tickets for not having vehicle insurance and 25 warnings for not having proof of insurance.

Motorists must bring proof of insurance to the police station to take care of the warning citation, Elkhorn Police Chief Joel Christensen said.

“It’s one of the questions police ask when asking for driver’s licenses,” Christensen said.

Last updated: 5:37 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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