Maryland offering debt forgiveness for uninsured drivers
MARYLAND – The State of Maryland estimates that more than 300,000 people owe money to the MDOT MVA for being uninsured but a state program could help.
“It’s scary just how many people are on the roadways, here in Wicomico County, that are willing to get behind the wheel and drive uninsured,” says Lt. Tim Robinson with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office.
In the state of Maryland, you must have insurance to drive a car. But too often people forget to pay their bill or can’t afford to because we everyone knows it can be expensive. But all it takes is one accident without insurance and you’re drowning in payments you never saw coming.
“When driving uninsured, number one, you have fine with the Motor Vehicle. It’s $150 fine for the first 30 days that you lapse. And then $7 a day after that, which can quickly add up. If you’re talking about for an entire year it’s about $2,500 in fines that you would pay,” says Emily Nock, the President of the Robert W. Nock Insurance Agency in Salisbury.
But those fines are only the MVA side of things. Police say drivers caught without insurance by law enforcement can be hit with other charges.
“It’s very likely that the vehicle is going to be impounded on the spot. The individual is going to be cited and forced to make an appearance in the district court of Maryland where they can face some severe financial penalties,” says Lt. Robinson.
Experts say that debt can often put people in hard situations especially in rural areas. “You need a vehicle in this area to get to work and to be able to get out of the hole that you’re in so if you’re already struggling, to pay your insurance bill having these penalties on top of it to be able to get your vehicle back on the road are not going to help you out any,” says Nock.
So officials are urging drivers with debt to take advantage of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund’s FineFix program. FineFix is a partnership between the Uninsured Division of Maryland Auto and the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA). It gives eligible drivers the opportunity to pay just 20 percent of their outstanding fines and the rest will be forgiven.
“Anything that is going to help people who get caught up and then able to proper insurance on their cars, their cars properly registered, is a good thing,” says Lt. Robinson.
Experts add that this program is a win win for everyone involved. Officials say when more drivers are properly insured more people are able to work and support their families.
While the program started in July, the enrollment period ends on December 31st. So state officials are trying to get the word out because they say less than 10 percent of eligible people are taking advantage of this.
For more information about the program or how to apply: click here.