Budget group opposes bill to hike insurance fines
BATON ROUGE - There are allegations that a law to make the roads safer is nothing more than a way to raise taxes and put money into the pockets of public safety workers.
A bill awaits the governor's signature to increase fines for drivers caught without at least basic liability insurance.
It's estimated about 14 percent of drivers don't have coverage. Some call this a tax on the poor.
"Most who let insurance lapse do so because they can't afford it," said Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project.
Moller said poor people won't be able to afford the new fines. The bill was authored by Baton Rouge Representative Barry Ivey (R), and negotiated on the last day of the legislative session. Moller said that is no way to run government.
"This was a backroom deal to raise taxes by $53 million," Moller said. "That's a problem. We're the third poorest state and the seventh highest for car insurance."
State Police said the increases are needed.
"Penalties for driving without insurance were minimal," Capt. Doug Cain said. "$25 for penalty to let insurance lapse."
Fines would now start at $100 for no insurance. State Police would benefit most from the increased penalties, since the money generated will fund a pay raise for new recruits.
"You want to recruit the best, finest, most qualified you can," Cain said. "Money is important."
The new fines would also fund a system where cops would know instantly if you have insurance or not.