Having car insurance in Michigan is required. Drivers must meet the minimum insurance requirements to operate a vehicle on the road. Having valid car insurance coverage is also something the police check for. But how do officers know if you have insurance? In addition to carrying proof of your no-fault insurance, the police can run your plates to get updated information on your insurance status.
Below, Jay Trucks discusses the tools used by the police to check a driver’s insurance status, what happens when false information is provided or you are found driving without insurance, as well as how license plate insurance detection benefits both officers and drivers.
If you need legal help or are unsure of your coverage limits in the event of a car accident, one of our licensed attorneys is here to offer assistance. We offer an initial consultation at no cost or risk to you.
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How Does the Police Know I Have Insurance?
The police will know if you have a valid insurance policy by running your plates through an electronic verification system, which is accessed directly from their in-car computers. These systems and the scanning methods used by the police to capture license plate information vary from state to state.
In Michigan, the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) database is a statewide computerized information system that enables officers to access and/or modify stored information. This includes verifying insurance coverage through drivers’ license records and vehicle registrations.
The LEIN system helps police quickly identify the following:
- If a driver is operating a vehicle without insurance
- If a driver’s no-fault car insurance policy has expired
- If a driver is carrying an up-to-date insurance card
By state law, car insurance companies are required every 14 days to inform the Michigan Secretary of State of all insured vehicles. This information is then made available to officers through the LEIN system.
When Do Officers Check for Car Insurance?
Officers often use electronic verification systems to check on a driver’s insurance status in real-time prior to or in the middle of a traffic stop. An officer can also run your license plate while you are driving to determine if the vehicle you are operating is insured. Should any insurance issues be detected in the system, the officer may pull a driver over and check that he or she has a valid insurance card.
More importantly, the system allows the police the ability to identify uninsured drivers and get them off the roads. An officer who runs a license plate through the system can find out if the driver has been previously cited for driving without a license – in other words, a repeat offender. Insurance checkpoints are also a way for the police to scan every driver passing through for insurance coverage.
Ways Electronic Insurance Detection Helps Drivers
Police checking if you have insurance by running your plates helps motivate most drivers to get insured and remain insured. State-mandated car insurance requirements are designed to help drivers in need in the event of a car accident. Uninsured drivers are riskier and more likely to cause an accident.
Without no-fault car insurance, you may be left having to pay out-of-pocket for your accident-related expenses. If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else and you have no insurance, you will not be able to sue for damages in Michigan. This is state law – regardless of the severity of your injuries.
Having insurance means not having to face criminal and financial penalties that can lead to jail time. With electronic insurance detection, officers can help make sure drivers are protecting themselves and others on the road by being insured. An accident can be a costly experience if you are not prepared.
Electronic insurance detection also helps drivers get back on the road faster after a traffic stop. An officer can quickly access your insurance details information and verify your insurance status while approaching your vehicle. It may even drive down insurance rates based on where you reside.
What if False Insurance Information is Provided?
If a driver is pulled over, the officer can tell false information is provided as soon as he or she runs the driver’s plates. Carrying a fake insurance card can get you into serious trouble with the law. Lying to the police about your car insurance can lead to costly fines and possible jail time.
Not only with the police know your proof of insurance is false, but they can also use the electronic verification system to identify drivers who have previously tried to dupe the police.
What Happens if the Police Learns You Are Uninsured?
The penalties for driving without insurance in Michigan may include:
- A misdemeanor charge
- Fines up to $500
- Jail time of up to one year
- A suspended driver’s license
- Inability to renew vehicle registration
Uninsured drivers may also be unable to sue for pain and suffering damages in addition to no-fault benefits if injured in an accident. They may be held financially responsible for paying any medical bills and lost wages they caused to victims, regardless of their degree of fault.
Reach Out to Our Firm for Trusted Legal Help
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