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Sixteen percent of Ohio drivers don’t have insurance, a number that has climbed during the economic downturn. The estimate is higher than the national average, where it’s expected that 13.8 percent, or one in seven drivers were uninsured in 2009, the most recent year of data available, according to the Insurance Research Council.

Because some motorists drive without insurance, other drivers carry the financial burden if they’re in an auto accident, whether or not they are at fault.

Tracey Abrams, 48, of Hamilton, Ohio, has dealt with two accidents involving uninsured drivers, the first in 2008, and the second, in 2009 when her husband was in an accident. Both times, she paid a $1,000 deductible, even though Abrams and her husband weren’t at fault in either accident.

In 2010, there were 1.07 million Ohio drivers who had their license suspended because they didn’t have auto insurance, according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Ohio law requires motorists to have insurance, but if a person decides to get behind the wheel without coverage and they are caught, it’s not a criminal offense, according to Hamilton police Lt. John Nethers.

There’s no code for not having insurance that we can cite a person for,” he said. “If I pull you over and you don’t have insurance, I can’t write you a ticket for no insurance. You have to get a ticket for something else. If you get a speeding ticket, then we mark it on the ticket.”

When the driver makes their court appearance for the ticket, it’s noted that the driver didn’t have proof of insurance at the time of the citation. If they can’t show proof o the court, the information is sent on to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the division that handles license suspension and fines.

The first time a motorist is caught driving without insurance; they are subject to a 30-day license suspension, 60 days on the second offense, and on the third offense, a forfeiture of their license, according to the Ohio BMV.

Most hit-skip accidents, where a driver leaves the scene of an accident, often involve a driver without auto insurance, he said.

For unsuspecting Ohio motorists, the 2009 statistics indicate that if they are in a crash, there’s a 16 percent chance that another driver involved is without insurance. That means if a driver is involved in an accident where the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance, they could still be left to pay damages.
Posted 5:35 PM

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