Electronic license plate readers to be used to crack down on uninsured vehicles

Three mobile units operating in Avoyelles now

In an effort to combat the problem of uninsured motorists on public highways, roads and streets, a system of mechanical eyes will be watching and sending out tickets to owners of uninsured vehicles beginning in mid-November.

Avoyelles Sheriff Doug Anderson and District Attorney Charles A. Riddle III said the new license plate readers (LPRs) have been set up throughout Avoyelles Parish to help crack down on uninsured drivers. Uninsured motorists raise premiums for all vehicle owners in Louisiana.

When a vehicle that does not have the required liability coverage passes the LPR, a “notice of violation” will be mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner, Anderson said.

In addition to aiding officials crack down on uninsured drivers, the new technology will also provide more timely information to law enforcement for such issues as Amber Alerts, kidnapping notices, warrants, stolen vehicles and other criminal activity.

The information system is linked to the Office of Motor Vehicles, Riddle said.

Anderson hailed the LPR system as a “proactive law enforcement approach” and said it promises to help law enforcement “with our primary function -- public safety -- while also helping taxpayers save some of their hard-earned money.”

Anderson said the process is similar to when a police officer stops a driver who cannot immediately provide proof of insurance. A ticket is issued even if the driver vows that insurance is in place.

An important difference with the LPR system is “it is less invasive since there is not an actual traffic stop.”

If the OMV has been notified that insurance on a vehicle has lapsed, release of that information will be triggered by the LPR request for information. A ticket will be issued to the vehicle owner, regardless of who was driving.

In Avoyelles, the normal fine for violating the law requiring vehicle liability insurance is $500 plus $165 in court costs.

If the OMV’s records are outdated and incorrect, the vehicle owner will be able to challenge the ticket and have it dismissed by showing proof of insurance for the day of the alleged violation. The ticket will be dismissed at no cost or charge to the vehicle owner.

Riddle said the ticket fine may be reduced if the owner can prove he obtained insurance after the ticket was issued and is in compliance with state law. The ticketed party can also choose to contest the ticket in court.

Anderson said he and Riddle hope the LPR technology “can reduce the number of uninsured motorist on our public highways. Louisiana has the second-highest vehicle insurance rates in the nation, and it simply costs too much to insure vehicles in our parish and all across Louisiana.”

The information stored in computers related to the ticket will be purged immediately if it is shown there was no violation and will be erased after the ticket is resolved.

For additional information, call Anderson at (318) 253-4000 or Riddle at (318) 253-6587.

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