Auto Insurance Law Misread

Some Virginia motorists are being pulled over, ticketed and convicted of a violation that may not be a crime under state law, Virginia Lawyers Weekly reports.

According to the news source, drivers in a number of localities have been fined and required to pay court costs because they lacked proof of insurance. While the state government has debated whether to require drivers to carry proof of insurance on multiple occasions, the source notes, they have never decided to do so.

Virginia auto insurance law does require motorists to choose between buying a policy or paying a $500 fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and classifies failure to comply as a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $500. It also penalizes falsely verifying insurance and similar crimes the same way. Beyond that, conviction under the relevant code results in immediate license suspension.

When asked by the news source, one Richmond prosecutor reportedly indicated drivers charged with failure to show proof of insurance need only bring it to court, at which time the charge will be dismissed.

A Virginia State Police public relations director, on the other hand, indicated officers may require drivers to provide documentation to the DMV within 30 days, or charge motorists with code violation, depending on the circumstances.

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