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Ocean Springs cracking down on uninsured motorists

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:31 PM CST
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Don’t look now, but you’re being watched.

For about two weeks, the Ocean Springs Police Department has been piling up a list of potential violators to the 2001 state law requiring motorists to have liability insurance.

“Almost 30% of the motorists in our state are uninsured,” said Ocean Springs Police Chief Mark Dunston. “And that’s costing you and that’s costing me and everybody else that does get their vehicle insurance. It’s costing us a lot of money, into the millions.”

Anyone driving Highway 90 in Ocean Springs is subject to having their car tag read, and if you don’t have any insurance, you could be getting a citation starting the first of next year.

Dunston said the department has been holding off issuing those citations.

“We didn’t think it would be a great thing to get in the mail during Christmas,” he said.

The city now has Automated License Plate Recognition cameras at high-traffic intersections that will scan your car tag.

Images go through an insurance database. Any potential violations are forwarded to the police for verification.

The department will then send citations through the website: www.courstatus.com.

If you receive a citation, you can do one of three things:

  • Provide proof of insurance at the time of the infraction.
  • accept diversion training and pay the program fee.
  • Or contest the charge in front of a judge.

For those who are insured, it’s costly and frustrating. But scanning license plates?

“I mean, I think there’s definitely some measures that need to be taken to fix the issue that we have,” said Cody Diamond of Biloxi. “But I’m just not sure that’s the appropriate measure we should take.”

Evelyn Diamond is frustrated as well.

“I was in an accident two years ago - I was in two, actually - and neither one of them had insurance,” she said. “So, of course, my uninsured motorist (insurance) had to pick up and pay my damages.”

However, she doesn’t think the plate scanning process will be an incentive to change.

“If they don’t have insurance now,” she said, “it’s not going to be an incentive to push them to get insurance.”

The program is funded entirely from insurance citation and diversion program fees.

If you want more information or if you have questions, call the Community Safety Help Desk at 1-800-853-7267.

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