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Bill Number: 3572 Ratification Number: 796 Act Number 671 Introducing Body: House Subject: Uninsured motor vehicle
(A671, R796, H3572)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 56-10-240, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO REQUIREMENTS ON INSURERS AND MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATORS WHEN A MOTOR VEHICLE IS NOT INSURED AS REQUIRED BY LAW, SO AS TO INCREASE THE REINSTATEMENT FEE DUE WHEN THE REGISTRATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE IS SUSPENDED FOR FAILURE TO MAINTAIN INSURANCE ON THE VEHICLE FROM TWENTY-FIVE TO ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS, TO REQUIRE AN INSURER TO GIVE NOTICE OF FAILURE TO PAY A PREMIUM FOR AUTOMOBILE LIABILITY INSURANCE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WITHIN TEN DAYS OF A PERIOD ENDING FIVE WORKING DAYS AFTER THE PREMIUM DUE DATE OR EXPIRATION OF ANY CUSTOMARY GRACE PERIOD, TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT TO PROVIDE TO THE VEHICLE OWNER WRITTEN NOTICE OF THE CANCELLATION OR SUSPENSION OF A VEHICLE'S REGISTRATION BY CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED, AND TO AMEND SECTION 38-73-455, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE RATES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT OWNING OR OPERATING AN UNINSURED MOTOR VEHICLE FOR THIRTY OR MORE CONSECUTIVE DAYS DURING THE TWELVE MONTHS IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE COVERAGE DISQUALIFIES THE PERSON FROM OBTAINING AUTOMOBILE LIABILITY INSURANCE AT THE BASE RATE.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Uninsured motor vehicle
SECTION 1. Section 56-10-240 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by an act of 1988 bearing ratification number 603, is further amended to read:
"Section 56-10-240. If, during the period for which it is licensed, a motor vehicle is or becomes an uninsured motor vehicle, then the vehicle owner immediately shall obtain insurance on the vehicle or within five days after the effective date of cancellation or expiration of his liability insurance policy surrender the motor vehicle license plates and registration certificates issued for the motor vehicle. If five working days after the last day to pay an automobile liability insurance premium, whether it is the premium due date or a grace period that is customarily or contractually granted, a motor vehicle is an uninsured motor vehicle, the insurer shall give written notice within ten days after such five-day period ends, in addition to that notice previously given in accordance with law, by delivery under United States Post Office Certificate of Mailing to the department of the cancellation or refusal to renew. The department may not thereafter reissue registration certificates and license plates for the vehicle until satisfactory evidence has been filed by the owner that the vehicle is insured. Upon receiving information to the effect that a policy is canceled or otherwise terminated on any motor vehicle registered in South Carolina, then the department shall suspend the license plates and registration certificate and shall initiate action as required within fifteen days of the notice of cancellation to pick up the license plates and registration certificate. Any person who has had his license plates and registration certificate suspended by the department, but who at the time of suspension does possess liability insurance coverage sufficient to meet the financial responsibility requirements as set forth in this chapter, has the right to immediately appeal the suspension to the Chief Insurance Commissioner. If the Chief Insurance Commissioner determines that the person has sufficient liability insurance coverage, the Chief Insurance Commissioner shall notify the department and the suspension is voided immediately. The department shall give
notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the cancellation or suspension of registration privileges to the vehicle owner at his last known address. However, when license plates are surrendered pursuant to this section, they must be held at the department office in the county where the person who surrenders the plates resides.
If the vehicle owner refuses to surrender the suspended items as required in this article, the department through its designated agents or by request to any county or municipal law enforcement agency may take possession of the suspended license plates and registration certificate and may not thereafter reissue the registration until proper proof of liability insurance coverage is provided and until the owner has paid a reinstatement fee in the amount of one hundred dollars.
Any person wilfully failing to return his motor vehicle license plates and registration certificates as required in this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for thirty days and, upon conviction of a second offense, be fined two hundred dollars or imprisoned for thirty days, or both, and for a third and subsequent offenses must be imprisoned for not less than forty-five days nor more than six months.
Only convictions which occurred within five years including and immediately preceding the date of the last conviction constitute prior convictions within the meaning of this section."
SECTION 2. Section 38-73-455(A)(7) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
"(7) has for thirty or more consecutive days during the twelve months immediately preceding the effective date of coverage, owned or operated the automobile to be insured (or if newly acquired, the automobile it replaces) without liability coverage in violation of the laws of this State; or".
SECTION 3. Section 1 of this act takes effect January 1, 1989, and Section 2 takes effect July 1, 1988.