Operating an Uninsured Motor Vehicle
Car accidents are an unavoidable side effect of living in a city where people are allowed to drive cars. They are particularly prevalent in cities like Boston and Cambridge where a high population, bus systems, bikers, and crowds of pedestrians at all hours of the day add to the dangers of driving and make accidents more likely. To mitigate the effects of these accidents, Massachusetts requires all residents who own or drive cars to obtain car insurance.
This law seeks to protect the public by ensuring that drivers who get into accidents have a way to compensate individuals or property that they injure in the course of driving. To get drivers to comply with the insurance requirement, the law makes it a crime to drive without insurance.
Typical car insurance policies provide compensation for personal injury to the policyholder, damage to the policyholder’s car, injury to anyone injured by the policyholder, and damage to a car hit by the policyholder. In addition, it usually covers loss of the policyholder’s car by fire or theft. In Massachusetts, drivers must have a minimum coverage of $20,000 for bodily injury to others, $8,000 coverage for the driver, passengers, and pedestrians, $20,000 coverage for injury caused by an uninsured vehicle, and $5,000 coverage for damage to someone else’s property. Once you purchase a car insurance policy, you will receive documents detailing your policy to keep in your car.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, section 34J prohibits operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth without insurance, and specifies punishment as a fine between $500 and $5,000, and imprisonment in the house of correction for up to one year, or both.
In order to convict an individual of operating an uninsured motor vehicle, the prosecutor must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt.
First, that the defendant operated a motor vehicle.
Second, that the defendant operated the vehicle on a public way, meaning an area to which the public has access.
Third, that the vehicle being operated was not insured at the time of the operation.
Although many states have similar car insurance requirements, not all states do. Thus, when a driver of a state that does not require car insurance drives through Massachusetts, that driver is not subject to this law. However, if the out of state driver drives in Massachusetts more than 30 days per year, owns a home in Massachusetts, or owns a business in Massachusetts, he or she is subject to the Massachusetts car insurance law.
Moreover, this crime can be harshly enforced. If a driver obtains insurance but gets into an accident before the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) receives paperwork concerning the insurance policy, the individual can still be charged with the crime of operating an uninsured vehicle. That being said, going to court with proof of your insurance policy can go a long way in dismissing your case or reducing the charge, especially if you have a good driving record and no criminal history.
If you are charged with operating an uninsured motor vehicle, you should immediately obtain an insurance policy and contact a criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at the law firm of Altman & Altman can help you resolve your charges quickly and get the result you want. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. You will meet one-on-one with an expert attorney to discuss you case, your insurance policy, and your options going forward.
Do not ignore these charges – if you act quickly and have the right attorney helping you, it is possible to resolve these charges without causing any disruption in your life. The attorneys at Altman & Altman can guide you through this process. Call us today to get the help you need.