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Old 07-13-2011, 03:33 PM
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Drove without insurance for a year - what is Maryland MVA likely to do?

So, a Maryland couple with two cars and a motorcycle let their auto insurance lapse but kept driving their cars for a year. One of their driver's licenses also expired a couple months into this period. Then they lost two of their vehicles to reposession and returned the tags, got a new driver's license, and got insurance again. Now everything they have is legal. Nobody got caught at any of this while it was going on, and there were no accidents or tickets.

What is the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration likely to do? Do they have some mechanism to spot this kind of thing, or does reaching the end of this period without anything happening mean that nothing will happen? Are there fines for this, or do they arrest people, or what?

Note I am not asking for any advice, I just want to know what the MVA typically does.

Thanks!
Old 07-13-2011, 04:18 PM
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My dealings with the MVA have all been hunky-dory, so far, but I found this page on the penalties for going uninsured. Some of the biggies:

Uninsured Vehicle Owners Could:
  • Lose license plates and vehicle registration privileges.
  • Pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter.
  • Pay a fine of up to $1,000 and/or one year imprisonment for providing false evidence of insurance.
I don't know what mechanisms MVA has for detecting a lack of insurance, though they would seem to have failed in the case you mention. (Unless your case is a pure hypothetical, but then that's some detailed hypothetical.)
Old 07-13-2011, 04:20 PM
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I can tell you from personal experience. My situation wasn't as bad as the one you outlined, but I did let insurance on a car lapse for a year and a half.

When insurance lapses, the insurer is required by state law to inform the MVA. The MVA will then send the owner a request that they turn in their tags immediately. Failure to do so results in an initial $150 fine plus $7 each subsequent day the tags aren't turned in (the fees may have risen since then).

Unless you can produce an FR-19 from a current insurance company proving that the insurance didn't lapse or signed statements from your neighbors where the vehicle was parked that it never moved, you'll be charged the above fees and if you wait long enough, they'll take your tags in the middle of the night.

They never came and took my tags, but when I did turn them in, I owed over $5000 in fees. It was pretty bad.

If you get stopped with suspended tags, you better believe you'll be walking home.

The Maryland MVA seems to be very unforgiving as far as state DMVs go.

Disclaimer: I do not affirm that this is the exact MVA policy now. My troubles happened about ten years ago, and I've kept my insurance current since then.

Last edited by Agent Foxtrot; 07-13-2011 at 04:21 PM.
Old 07-13-2011, 09:13 PM
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Yeah, my hypothetical example is really unpleasantly detailed.

Agent Foxtrot, how exactly did you find out you owed fees after turning in the tags? Did you wait your turn and give them to the lady, and she told you right then and there? Or did something follow in the mail?

If you turned them in and got a receipt and walked out without hearing anything about fines, would you think that meant that they failed to detect your lack? Or would you lose sleep for months until you heard something?
Old 07-13-2011, 09:59 PM
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While there are factual answers to the OP, they're better answered in IMHO, which is where I'm moving this.

samclem, Moderator
Old 07-13-2011, 10:01 PM
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In Ohio(which I know might not have any bearing on MD. law), the state randomly sends out letters periodically asking you to provide evidence that you have insurance on such and such a date. If you didn't, you're cooked. If you never got a letter, and didn't get arrested and needed to provide proof, you're in the clear.
Old 07-13-2011, 10:05 PM
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It is possible the MVA has no clue the insurance lapsed. I would not offer that information to them.
Old 07-13-2011, 10:57 PM
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Ignoring the "fine for failing to turn in license plate"...

Is driving without insurance an offense by the driver? Then the police would have to catch and charge a specific driver at a specific time, on the road. For the same reason nobody tries to hand out "common sense says you must have been speeding last month" tickets, they probably can't hand out "uninsured motoring" fines. Just tell them it was parked (waiting for engine repair) and they will have to prove otherwise.

The failure to turn in license plates - not much you can do if they latch onto that...
Old 07-13-2011, 11:12 PM
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My state (MO) requires insurance. We're required to show proof when renewing plates and sign the form swearing that we really have it now and will continue coverage. The insurance companies are supposed to notify the state when coverage lapses but I don't think they do. My daughter's car was rear-ended, the driver didn't have insurance and neither did the car's owner. My daughter had to inform the police the other driver was uninsured, they didn't know.
I'd not worry about it if I were you. You're legal now, no harm, no foul. Feign innocence if confronted, but it's likely they don't know about it.
Old 07-14-2011, 10:58 AM
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I would not recommend handing them the rope with which to hang you, if that makes sense. Keep mum on the issue and deal with a bill if you get one. Will you? Nobody can say for sure. Was your address on file with the state DMV current? If you're like me and move too goddamn much and are lazy about updating addresses, they might have sent a bunch of notices that you never got (and that's not an excuse for not paying them--I had missed a few tolls in Illinois and the notices were sent to my old apartment, and I didn't get the bills until I'd racked up $1k in fees, from a starting balance of $100). So make sure your address with them is current, anyway.

Generally, when you take out a new insurance policy, there is a question that asks if you have been uninsured at any point in the last year/3yrs/5yrs. If you answered that question honestly, then your new insurance rates would typically be higher to compensate for the fact that you are willing to drive illegally without insurance. That's a risky behavior from the insurance co's perspective, both from a personality standpoint and from a billing standpoint (as it applies to willingness to pay future premiums).

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 07-14-2011 at 11:00 AM.
Old 07-14-2011, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier View Post
Yeah, my hypothetical example is really unpleasantly detailed.

Agent Foxtrot, how exactly did you find out you owed fees after turning in the tags? Did you wait your turn and give them to the lady, and she told you right then and there? Or did something follow in the mail?

If you turned them in and got a receipt and walked out without hearing anything about fines, would you think that meant that they failed to detect your lack? Or would you lose sleep for months until you heard something?
Well, I let the insurance lapse because I was young, dumb, and broke. I started receiving letters in the mail from the MVA noting my insurance lapse and explaining the fines I was facing for not turning in my tags. The letters just kept coming and coming each month with higher and higher dollar amounts. I'm not sure, but I think the last few letters had a skull and crossbones on the envelope.

Anyway, when I finally turned the tags in, they allowed me to get new tags if I either paid the fine then and there, or let it go to Maryland State Collections, where I could pay it off monthly at a 17% interest rate. I picked the latter.

I don't recommend you incriminate yourself if they haven't brought it up yet. They best way to know you're in the clear is if you continue to get registration renewal notices in the mail.
Old 07-14-2011, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Agent Foxtrot View Post
They best way to know you're in the clear is if you continue to get registration renewal notices in the mail.
Thanks, everybody. I feel more optimistic about all this. And the couple DID get a renewal notice in the mail a few weeks back (and we just renewed online without incident, too).
Old 07-14-2011, 11:53 PM
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I lived in Maryland years ago and they used to send the little cards you took to your insurance agent. I always had insurance.

Recently I got a notice saying I need to prove I had insurance from Jan - June of 1999. The penalty is $4100.

The insurance agency is gone and the insurance company is gone.

The woman at DMV told me she gets calls about people getting these from the 80's.
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