Despite laws in nearly every U.S. state requiring car insurance for drivers, an estimated one in seven drivers nationwide is uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council. In Illinois, where the uninsured rate is about 15 percent, lawmakers have dramatically increased penalties for those who habitually drive without insurance, hoping to improve compliance with the law.
Tougher Penalties for Repeat Offenders
According to state law, all Illinois drivers are required to purchase liability insurance to cover any potential injuries that the driver may cause to others if he or she is involved in a car accident. Under a new Illinois law that went into effect on in January 2012, uninsured drivers will be subject to the following fines:
- $500 to $1,000 for a first or second offense
- $1,000 for a third or subsequent offense
- $2,500 for a third or subsequent offense that causes vehicle damage or personal injury to another person
In addition to facing steep fines, people convicted of driving without insurance in Illinois will have their driver’s licenses suspended for three months and will be required to pay a $100 reinstatement fee. Anyone convicted of driving without insurance during a license suspension period will have his or her driving privileges suspended for an additional six months.
Uninsured Driving Puts Others at Risk
Uninsured driving affects everyone, not just the uninsured drivers themselves. Particularly in a tough economy like the one facing America in recent years, some drivers who have difficulty making ends meet may try to cut costs by dropping their car insurance. Unfortunately, however, this tactic results in higher insurance costs for everyone else and puts car accident victims at a serious risk of being unable to cover their medical expenses if they are injured in a crash with an uninsured driver.
By making it more expensive to drive without insurance, Illinois lawmakers hope the tougher penalties will convince more drivers to make the responsible choice and purchase liability insurance.
If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident in Illinois, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills and other expenses arising from the crash. For more information about your legal options, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.