No jail time for Missouri drivers without insurance - KMOV.com

No jail time for Missouri drivers without insurance

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Screeching tires and shattered glass. A car accident can be terrifying. But after the fear comes anger, if you learn the person who hit you doesn't have any insurance.

This is more common than you might think. In the past two years, close to 70,000 people were convicted of driving without insurance in Missouri.

According to the Consumer Federation of America, while at least 14 states provide jail time as a form of punishment for a first offense of driving without insurance, Missouri isn't one of them, even though the crime is a misdemeanor.

Instead, it's a four-point driving record violation, not an automatic license suspension.

“I think they should truthfully start revoking people's licenses and when they get caught driving, I think they should revoke it permanently,” said Frank Cantone, a St. Louis resident who was hit by a driver without insurance.

And he wasn't the only one frustrated.

“I think it would be great if people who don't have insurance would have to spend a week in jail or some kind of punishment besides a ticket,” said Kile Barton, who was also hit by the same driver.

But some advocates say the law is fine the way it is.

“Often it isn't about someone's bad attitude, it's often about there just wasn't enough money to go around so locking someone up for that, that's basically criminalizing poverty,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford with Empower Missouri. Mott Oxford says the issue of penalizing people for not paying for something gets complicated.

“To just assume that everyone who doesn't pay insurance is irresponsible, instead of just a victim of their circumstances is just not reality,” Mott Oxford said.

But now in financial binds themselves, Frank and Kile say they want more from the law.

“We are just left holding the bill here and that's not fair, it hurts and it's very upsetting,” Cantone said. The Department of Revenue declined an on-camera interview, but said they follow the laws as they're written.

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