Uninsured drivers can cost you

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At any given time, hundreds of people are driving around the Augusta area without insurance or with a suspended license, and officials say it could end up being costly if a wreck occurs.

Willie Smith poses for his drivers license photo as he renews his license in Evans, Ga.  Magistrate Judge Pat Hardaway has noted that there are a lot of people driving on suspended licenses.  Jim Blaylock/Staff
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Willie Smith poses for his drivers license photo as he renews his license in Evans, Ga. Magistrate Judge Pat Hardaway has noted that there are a lot of people driving on suspended licenses.

"Normally, if you have a suspended license, you don't have insurance," said Gloria Crosby, the director of the traffic division at Columbia County Probate Court. "And if you're involved in a wreck with someone with a suspended license and they have no insurance, then you are the loser."

In Columbia County, officials say, the number of people caught driving without insurance has risen from 152 cases in 2006 to 278 each in 2007 and 2008.

Fewer people with suspended licenses are paying timely fines so that their driving rights can be restored, Ms. Crosby said. She said she sees it as another result of the economic downturn, with fewer people able to pay a license-reinstatement fine or keep their insurance payments up to date.

Last year, Columbia County dealt with 316 suspended-license cases, Ms. Crosby said. That's 120 fewer than in 2007, but Ms. Crosby said it seems that more cases are staying unresolved longer.

Charles Willey, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Revenue, which oversees a database of insured drivers, said his office didn't notice much of a statewide increase in cases involving suspended licenses or no insurance last year.

"We may see more of it this year going forward because people are hurting," he said.

As of Jan. 30, according to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, about 190,000 people had suspended licenses and likely still live in Georgia, said Jennifer Ammons, an agency spokeswoman.

In South Carolina, Beth Parks, the communications director for the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, said it is already seeing a slight increase in the number of drivers ticketed for not having insurance. The number rose from 9,704 in the 2006-07 fiscal year to 10,265 last fiscal year, nearly a 6 percent jump.

Aiken County's Traffic Court doesn't keep a tally of cases involving suspended licenses or lack of insurance.

Richmond County had 808 cases involving lack of insurance last year, said Augusta State Court Solicitor General Harold Jones. He said such cases were not tracked until 2008. Mr. Jones said there were 1,271 suspended-license cases in 2008, an increase of 166 from 2007.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 823-3338 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (12) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 02/06/09 - 02:42 am
0
0
What aversive consequences

What aversive consequences befall those who operate vehicles while their driver's licenses have been suspended?

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 02/06/09 - 03:59 am
0
0
I had a neighbor that drove

I had a neighbor that drove for 17 years with a suspended license because he found it more affordable than the schooling and fines associated with regaining his license. At 35, he still drives without a license and he still gets stopped for drunk driving a couple of times a year. I've heard of others like my ex-neighbor, but I'm familiar with this loser.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 02/06/09 - 06:16 am
0
0
If your license gets
Unpublished

If your license gets suspended take the tag off the vehicle. If the vehicle is owned by someone else, before they can get the
tag back, make that owner sign an agreement that the vehicle
will be sold to highest bidder to pay damages for an accident
incurred by this vehicle if their insurance refuses to pay because
someone driving is not licensed, or violating any driving laws.

rufus
2
Points
rufus 02/06/09 - 07:50 am
0
0
Yeah, that ought to do it

Yeah, that ought to do it Dick

Waymore
103
Points
Waymore 02/06/09 - 07:58 am
0
0
Craig Spinks, I have your

Craig Spinks, I have your answer. "Nothing."

APiratesLife4Me
0
Points
APiratesLife4Me 02/06/09 - 08:57 am
0
0
You can always tell the "law

You can always tell the "law abiding", They are the ones in a 1975 LTD Stationwagon with no hub caps, and an old piece of cardboard with scibbling in pencil or whatever that states tag applied or or stolen tag. What the heck???????????? The police see this day in and day out and drive right on by. Just take a drive down lower Augusta or Gordon highway.

APiratesLife4Me
0
Points
APiratesLife4Me 02/06/09 - 09:01 am
0
0
NEWS FLASH............Just

NEWS FLASH............Just heard where a picup truck, down in the MCG area (go figure) was stopped for no tag and lights. BINGO.......rolling METH LAB. Way to go !

disssman
6
Points
disssman 02/06/09 - 09:50 am
0
0
I don't understand this.

I don't understand this. Didn't we re-elect an incumbent for the commissioner of insurance? Maybe we should have voted the person and not the party!

curly123053
4255
Points
curly123053 02/06/09 - 11:02 am
0
0
I know what kind of a pain in

I know what kind of a pain in the neck an uninsured can cause. One morning on E.Pine Log Rd in Aiken I was hit from behind. While I was out of my car surveying the damage the female driver was doing her best to talk me out of calling the police when an Aiken Public Safety officer pulled up. He was nearby wrapping up another accident and witnessed my accident. This lady was still in her PJ's,having just dropped her kids off at Kennedy Middle, and her car had tags from Columbia County GA on it. When the officer ran her license and tags it came back that she was wanted for driving without insurance in North Augusta and Grovetown and also for driving under suspension. She had bench warrants for failure to show in each place, but because she was pregnant Aiken Public Safety would not take her to jail. The officer explained they did not put pregnant women in jail for traffic offenses. Well, she did not show for the Aiken City Traffic Court either and my insurance wound up taking care of things, and I endured a slight increase in my next bill too. Not a whole lot you can do to protect yourself from an uninsured driver except keep your insurance up to date.

thistownisunbelievable
1
Points
thistownisunbelievable 02/06/09 - 01:35 pm
0
0
Get UM coverage from your

Get UM coverage from your insurer. It costs a little bit, but it can save you a ton of trouble. And call the 911 before even getting out of the car if you have an accident.

gvoicinganopinion
0
Points
gvoicinganopinion 02/06/09 - 04:00 pm
0
0
Make sure you have adequate

Make sure you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy to fit you needs. If you are unsure about what you have, contact your agent today. Speaking from experience, uninsured motorist claims are a big majority of claims we see in the insurance industry.
Protect yourself.

KSL
122017
Points
KSL 02/06/09 - 08:49 pm
0
0
I think un-insured or

I think un-insured or under-insured drivers who cause an accident should serve time.

KSL
122017
Points
KSL 02/06/09 - 08:50 pm
0
0
Why should I have to pay

Why should I have to pay extra for drivers who are not paying what they should?

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