2006 Regular Session
To: Insurance; Transportation
By: Representative Dedeaux, Buck, Formby, Moore
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 63-15-4, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY TO IMPLEMENT A MOTORIST IDENTIFICATION DATABASE PROGRAM FOR THE PURPOSE OF IDENTIFYING UNINSURED MOTORISTS IN THIS STATE; TO REQUIRE A RANDOM SAMPLING OF VEHICLE REGISTRANTS TO RESPOND TO AN INSURANCE QUESTIONNAIRE SHOWING PROOF OF LIABILITY INSURANCE AS REQUIRED BY THE MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY-RESPONSIBILITY ACT; TO AUTHORIZE SUSPENSION OF VEHICLE REGISTRATION IF THE REGISTRANT FAILS TO TIMELY RESPOND TO THE QUESTIONNAIRE OR IF THE REGISTRANT DOES NOT SHOW PROOF OF LIABILITY INSURANCE; TO AUTHORIZE A FEE FOR THE REINSTATEMENT OF A VEHICLE REGISTRATION SUSPENDED PURSUANT TO THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 63-15-4, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-15-4. (1) The following vehicles are exempted from the requirements of this section:
(a) Vehicles exempted by Section 63-15-5;
(b) Vehicles for which a bond or a certificate of deposit of money or securities in at least the minimum amounts required for proof of financial responsibility is on file with the department;
(c) Vehicles that are self-insured under Section 63-15-53; and
(d) Implements of husbandry.
(2) (a) Every motor vehicle operated in this state shall have an insurance card maintained in the vehicle as proof of liability insurance that is in compliance with the liability limits required by Section 63-15-3(j). The insured parties shall be responsible for maintaining the insurance card in each vehicle.
(b) An insurance company issuing a policy of motor vehicle liability insurance as required by this section shall furnish to the insured an insurance card for each vehicle at the time the insurance policy becomes effective.
(3) Upon stopping a motor vehicle at a roadblock where all passing motorists are checked as a method to enforce traffic laws or upon stopping a motor vehicle for any other statutory violation, a law enforcement officer, who is authorized to issue traffic citations, shall verify that the insurance card required by this section is in the motor vehicle. However, no driver shall be stopped or detained solely for the purpose of verifying that an insurance card is in the motor vehicle unless the stop is part of such roadblock.
(4) Failure of the owner or the operator of a motor vehicle to have the insurance card in the motor vehicle is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, is punishable by a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and suspension of driving privilege for a period of one (1) year or until the owner of the motor vehicle shows proof of liability insurance that is in compliance with the liability limits required by Section 63-15-3(j). Fraudulent use of an insurance card shall be punishable in accordance with Section 97-7-10. The funds from such fines shall be deposited in the State General Fund in the State Treasury. However, if such fines are levied in a municipal court, twenty-five percent (25%) of the funds from such fines shall be deposited in the general fund of the municipality. If such fines are levied in any of the courts of the county, twenty-five percent (25%) of the funds from such fines shall be deposited in the general fund of the county.
(5) If, at the hearing date or the date of payment of the fine, the motor vehicle owner shows proof of motor vehicle liability insurance in the amounts required by Section 63-15-3(j), the fine shall be reduced to One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). If the owner shows proof that such insurance was in effect at the time of citation, the case shall be dismissed as to the defendant with prejudice and all court costs shall be waived against the defendant.
(6) (a) The Department of Public Safety shall implement a motorist identification database program for the purpose of identifying uninsured motorists in this state. The Department of Public Safety shall contract with a private vendor to implement the program. Such vendor shall have experience in managing state liability insurance programs and in managing large-scale data management services for the State of Mississippi. The Commissioner of Public Safety, or his designee, shall convene a work group consisting of representatives of the insurance industry, the Department of Insurance and the Department of Public Safety to develop a plan for the program. The Department of Public Safety shall be responsible for requesting any appropriate information from insurance companies on a recurring basis necessary to compile and maintain the database. All insurance companies issuing a policy of motor vehicle liability insurance as required by this section shall cooperate with the Department of Public Safety to maintain up-to-date information needed for the database. The Commissioner of Insurance shall notify the Department of Public Safety when a motor vehicle liability insurer ceases to do business in Mississippi.
(b) The Commissioner of Public Safety shall prescribe rules and regulations for a program under which a random sampling of registered noncommercial vehicles occurs and such registrants are required to respond to an insurance questionnaire showing proof of having liability insurance as required by this section. Insurance companies shall substantiate or deny any registrant's claim to having liability insurance with that company in the manner prescribed by the Commissioner of Public Safety. If the registrant fails to respond with valid information within thirty (30) days from receipt of the questionnaire, a registration suspension notice shall be mailed to the registrant who shall have fifteen (15) business days from receipt of the notice to respond. If the registrant fails to respond within the required time period or if his response fails to show proof of liability insurance as required by this section, his vehicle registration shall be suspended and a fee in the amount of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) shall be charged to reinstate the registration; however, if the registrant shows proof of liability insurance within thirty (30) days after the date the vehicle registration is suspended, the charge to reinstate the registration shall be reduced to One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). The registrant whose registration has been suspended may make a written request, within ten (10) days after receipt of notice of the suspension, to the Department of Public Safety for a hearing and such request shall operate as a stay of any suspension pending the outcome of the hearing. The hearing officer shall review the merits of the suspension and make a determination on its status. Any person whose suspension has been sustained shall have the right to appeal in a court of proper jurisdiction. However, the suspension shall not be stayed by the Department of Public Safety or any court while the appeal is pending. No vehicle registration may be renewed or transferred while it is in a suspended condition. Reinstatement fees collected under this subsection shall be deposited into the State General Fund; provided, however, that five percent (5%) of the collected fees shall be deposited into a special fund hereby created and named the "Motorist Identification Database Fund" to be used by the Department of Public Safety to administer this subsection, and five percent (5%) of the collected fees shall be evenly distributed to the counties of this state.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.