Minn. Licensing Crackdown Targets ‘High-Risk’ Drivers

February 2, 2004

Beginning in March, a new Minnesota law designed to get uninsured drivers off the road will require proof of insurance from both a random sampling as well as “problem drivers” who have previous convictions on their records.

“The law was developed as a mirror of an Illinois statute that relies on random sampling to eliminate uninsured drivers,” said Daniel Kummer, director of automobile insurance for the Property Casualty Insurance Association of America (PCI). “However, the Minnesota law goes further by requiring half of the mailings to go to ‘high-risk’ drivers. In addition, drivers who try to get around the law by buying and then canceling insurance will be reported to the DMV, which will pull their licenses immediately.”

The Minnesota DVS estimates that as much as 15 percent of the state’s drivers do not have insurance.

Under the Minnesota No-Fault Act passed last legislative session, the Minnesota Department of Vehicle Services will begin sending notices to 70,000 drivers requiring proof of insurance, providing them 30 days to respond. Drivers who fail to comply will have their drivers’ licenses suspended.

The Minnesota law is unique in that it targets high-risk drivers, defined as those who have been convicted of one or more of the following violations during the previous year:

—At least one vehicle insurance law violation;
—Driver’s license revocation or suspension due to habitual violation of traffic laws;
—No proof of insurance in effect at the time of a reportable crash;
—Alcohol-related motor vehicle conviction.

“Illinois has seen good results with a similar law,” said Laura Kotelman, regional manager and counsel for the PCI. “When the preexisting law was modified in 1999, there were roughly 80,000 drivers being tracked for noninsurance. This year, that number is something like 450,000. The real beneficiaries are insured drivers who get hit by high-risk drivers who wouldn’t have coverage under the old law. This law has teeth in it.”

PCI members insure nearly 47 percent of the personal automobile market in Minnesota.

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