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Georgia suspends tags on 77,000 vehicles

By Duane D. Stanford
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state has suspended the license plates of more than 77,000 Georgia vehicles believed to be uninsured.

If caught driving without a valid tag, the owners face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The suspensions are part of Georgia's high-tech crackdown on uninsured motorists. Georgia law requires all drivers to have liability coverage. The state recently began tracking auto insurance policies using a computer database updated by insurance companies. The system flags vehicles registered for license plates but not insured.

Previously, uninsured drivers were caught only when stopped by police for other infractions.

Warnings – and $25 fines – went out last month to owners of vehicles missing from the database. The letters gave owners until May 1 to respond. The state also has suspended license tags for 25,000 vehicles whose owners ignored fines imposed last month for allowing their insurance to lapse longer than 24 hours, which also is against the law. There are more than 7 million registered vehicles in Georgia.

In cases where a car has been sold, traded to a car dealer or wrecked and considered a total loss by the insurance company, drivers can sign a sworn statement at their county tax commissioner's office saying they no longer own the vehicle. The fine then would be waived, the state said.

Other proof of insurance, such as a declarations page, is accepted at county tag offices, but drivers still must get on the database within 30 days. Failing to do so has resulted in an additional 11,000 tag suspensions, officials said.

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