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If you live in Nashville (or anywhere else in Tennessee) and drive a car, 2017 brought an important change you should know about: the implementation of the James Lee Atwood Jr. Law, aimed at whittling down the number of uninsured drivers in our state.
Up to now, weve had a startling number of those uninsured drivers according to legislative analysis done around the time the Atwood Law passed, in 2015, more than 1 million uninsured vehicles were on the road in Tennessee, with around 20 percent of our drivers shirking their car-insurance responsibility. That puts us near the top of an unflattering list, with the sixth highest percentage of uninsured drivers in the country. This law means to change that.
The Atwood law went into effect as of Jan. 1, 2017, and here are the basics you should be aware of, as a Tennessee driver and car owner: The Tennessee Department of Revenue will now be regularly verifying your car insurance with a new online system, and law enforcement agencies can access and review that information regularly as well (not just when you go to renew your registration). Those drivers who cant verify coverage will end up facing increased fines, ramping up if the issue isnt addressed. Prior to the new law, fines were as high as $100; now uninsured motorists can end up paying three times that. Beyond the fines, failure to provide proof of insurance can ultimately lead to suspension of your vehicle registration.
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The new law is about enforcement
That Tennessee drivers are required to carry car insurance before they put their feet on the pedals is nothing new the Financial Responsibility Law, tracing back to 1977, set that expectation. But it hadnt been adequately enforced, according to many across the state. The Atwood Law addresses enforcement.
If youve been keeping your coverage current, you wont need to stress about it. “If you’ve never been out of compliance then you probably won’t see a difference,”State Representative William Lamberth told NewsChannel 5. But “if you are one of the drivers on the roadway uninsured, then you will get caught, and before you get tags renewed, you’ll have to have insurance on that vehicle.”
With car insurance, one size does not fit all
The Atwood Law doesnt change the minimum limits of liability coverage. Those are still:
$25,000.00 for one injury or death
$50,000.00 for all injuries or deaths
$15,000.00 for property damage for one accident
But something I urge all drivers to consider: One size absolutely does not fit all when it comes to this stuff.