Driving without insurance topic of Pennsylvania bill
September 16, 2020
A Pennsylvania House bill that is expected to be discussed this week would relax the punishment for driving a personal vehicle without insurance. The bill sponsor says it could also help professional drivers.
Pennsylvania law requires vehicle owners to have and maintain insurance. Violators could face a three-month registration suspension. If the vehicle is operated without insurance, vehicle owners face a three-month license suspension.
Sponsored by Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny County, the bill would set a civil penalty instead of license suspension for operating without insurance.
Kortz says it is not uncommon for lapses in vehicle insurance to occur by accident. He cites application errors, processing errors, notification errors, or “just honest mistakes.”
Vehicle owners are allowed to pay a $500 civil penalty instead of serving the three-month registration suspension. In order to take advantage of the option, owners must provide proof of current insurance.
“Unfortunately, if the vehicle was operated without insurance, there is no similar option to pay a civil penalty instead of serving the three-month license suspension,” Kortz wrote in a memo to House lawmakers.
Kortz said his bill would fix what he describes as a problem. Specifically, HB2478 would allow owners who are able to show proof of current insurance to pay a $500 civil penalty instead of serving the three-month license suspension.
The option would be available to vehicle owners once every five years.
“This change will ensure that accidental lapses in auto insurance do not have to hinder a person’s ability to travel and earn a living,” Kortz wrote.
Additionally, he said the change would help commercial drivers who now face a three-month license suspension, even if the lapse in insurance occurred in their personal vehicle.
The House Transportation Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill on Thursday, Sept. 17.