Scanners to Catch Uninsured Motorists Are Coming

Are you paying your auto insurance premiums every month?  If you are not, watch out because Nevada and a few other states are considering adding photo enforcement as a tool to catch the near 20% of drivers who are on the road without it.  

InsureNet, a Chicago-based company, has offered to pay Nevada $30 million upfront for the privilege of setting up scanners and providing the necessary software to nail drivers without insurance. The company would keep a yet-to-be-determined percentage of the fines paid.

If approved by legislators, cameras would be installed at intersections and scan license plates as vehicles pass through. If 20 vehicles zip through an intersection in a 3-second period, the scanner will capture each vehicle's plate information and run it through a national database to determine the insurance status of the driver, Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said.

"The company will decide where they want to put the cameras, but obviously you would put them in a high-traffic area," Burns said. "They sit there and scan all day." About 22 percent of Nevada drivers are without insurance, Burns said.

Legislators have shot down supporters of red-light cameras three times since 2005. Critics aired concerns about the cost and whether cameras violate motorists' rights to privacy and due process.

Insurance companies notify the DMV of insurance lapses every month. Under Nevada LIVE, the DMV will be notified immediately. The offender will receive a verification request in the mail and can dispute the citation online or in person. Motorists who fail to respond will receive a registered letter notifying them of their suspended registration.

"We don't really know too much about it," Tom Jacobs, a DMV spokesman, said of the InsureNet proposal. Burns touted the InsureNet system for its ability to catch out-of-state offenders, but Jacobs questioned the process because not all states have insurance verification programs.

It is unknown how effective InsureNet's system is. No other state has implemented the program. According to the Chicago Tribune, InsureNet representatives told Chicago officials that the company planned to have "three or four states" signed on within months. That was a year ago.

Burns said InsureNet told the governor it planned to have two other states sign on soon.