Proof of auto insurance requirements changing in Arizona

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A three car accident Thursday afternoon on Broadway near Alvernon caused headaches for all involved.

It’s a situation where auto insurance not only comes in handy, but is required by law. However, officials with Tucson City Court claim, more often than not, people stopped for traffic violations don't have proof of insurance.

“No proof of insurance is probably one of the most common citations that we get,” said Tony Riojas, presiding magistrate for Tucson City Court.

That's one reason why Adalberto Ochoa had to go to court on Thursday. “I didn't have proof of insurance [when he was stopped], but I have insurance,” Ochoa said. “I had it at my house so I just got a hearing on Monday and I just gotta bring it in and see if they drop the charges.”

If what he says is true, the court will drop those charges..

But starting October 1, things won't be that simple.

“Now what happens before you can get any reduction in the fine, not only do you have to show proof of the policy, but you also have to be able to show that you have not gotten an insurance citation within the past two years, or only one in the last three,” Magistrate Riojas said.

If you are a repeat offender, you face up to a $1,000 fine.

And if you don't bring the proof of insurance, you're fined, and the court suspends your license and registration.

Some, favor the idea. “I think it's a good idea,” said Rico Quinbar of Tucson. “I mean let's face it, it's not getting any easier out there to drive.”

“Well I think it's a good idea to make it tougher,” said Kim Elliott of Tucson. “But I would rather see community service required of them so they give back to the community because people skip out on fines.”

When Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law back in July, insurance agents across the state praised it, saying it would reduce the amount of uninsured motorists on the roads.

But Magistrate Riojas, however, says that's not necessarily true. “Honestly I really don't think so,” he said. “Just because most people who can't afford insurance aren't gonna get it one way or the other. So people will take their chance and they're gonna drive anyway.”

And soon, the consequences will be more harsh.

But it's a policy decision Riojas, and those caught without insurance, will soon have to face.

 

More facts:

The monetary penalties associated with violations of the new law:

$500 + surcharges and court fees, for a first offense

$750 + surcharges and court fees, for a second offense

$1,000 + surcharges and court fees, for a third offense

 

The statute also allows the court to reduce or waive the penalty imposed for a violation if the person provides proof of both the following items:

The defendant (driver) not been found responsible of a violation (no proof of insurance) within the past 24 months OR has not had more than one violation within the past 36 months as evidenced by the person’s driving record.

The defendant has purchased a six month policy of insurance.

 

The statute allows the court to:

Waive the monetary penalty

Waive the driver’s license suspension

Waive only the registration suspension

Waive both the driver’s license suspension and registration suspension

Impose a lower monetary penalty, or

Any combination of the items listed here