According to Ohio’s Financial Responsibility Act (FRA), vehicle owners are not allowed to operate, nor permit another to operate, their vehicle without insurance. Proof of financial responsibility must be maintained throughout the vehicle’s registration period and for other drivers who operate the vehicle. To ensure compliance with the FRA, The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has a random selection program in place, through which 5,400 registered vehicles per week are chosen at random and the owners are asked to provide proof of insurance for a specific date.
Those found in violation of the FRA are subject to civil penalties, including driver’s license suspension and impoundment of the person’s license. Similarly, if an individual is unable to provide proof of liability insurance coverage for the date specified by the random selection program, that person will receive a random selection suspension. He or she must provide proof of insurance in order to cancel the suspension by sending a copy of the insurance policy declarations page, insurance identification card or a letter on insurance company letterhead stating that liability insurance was in effect, signed by an agent.
Those who are injured by a driver who does not have car insurance will still be able to recover for their injuries, medical bills, lost wages and other financial losses through the uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage) provided by their insurance carrier. Those injured by an unidentifiable driver who caused a hit and run accident are also eligible to pursue an uninsured motorist lawsuit.
An uninsured motorist may claim one of several exemptions to the random selection program, including: the vehicle was inoperable, the vehicle is operated only seasonally, the owner or driver was not at fault for the lapse of financial responsibility, the lapse of responsibility was due to excusable neglect that occurred under extraordinary circumstances, the vehicle was sold or traded in, the vehicle was stored, the vehicle owner was on active military duty or the vehicle owner was incarcerated. These exemptions will be discussed in a future post.