Dear Mahatma: I was at the Revenue Office the other day. A little old lady in the line next to mine was told she couldn't get her car tag because of a $100 fee on her record for not having had insurance. The clerk explained, but the little old lady walked away confused. Me, too. Can you tell me what this was all about? -- Got My Tag
Dear Tag: We can indeed tell you, but only after we ask the folks at the Department of Finance and Administration.
Scott Hardin, who speaks for DF&A, explained. First, general information. Then, answers to some specific questions.
Legislation -- Act 1016 of 2017 and Act 869 of 2019 -- led to the creation of a real-time insurance verification system that started operation on Jan. 1, 2020. It's possible we already knew this and forgot.
(Some people would use the verb launched, rather than started, but we were taught in journalism school that only ships and rockets are launched. This was back when we wrote our stories on stone tablets.)
Before this system, if a driver were pulled over, and law enforcement checked the vehicle's insurance status, that information might be up to 30 days old. Now, the information is updated by insurance companies and is accurate each day.
If insurance is dropped on a vehicle with an active registration, a letter is sent to the owner, telling him of a $100 reinstatement fee that must be paid when coverage is obtained. If coverage is not obtained within 30 days, the vehicle's registration will be suspended. The first round of letters were coincidentally sent out in early February. Hardin said Arkansans should understand the letter is legitimately from the state.
Why coincidentally? Because the Fabulous Babe traded in her old car in January. A letter arrived in the mail in February. The Babe went to a DF&A website to report the sale. Information to that effect was in the letter.
Now to the questions, which we hope are a little impertinent.
Was the little old lady's predicament the result of a ticket issued by a police officer during a stop?
Is $100 the standard fine for not having insurance?
No, the $100 is the pending reinstatement fee. Fines are issued by law enforcement, doggone it.
What should the little old lady do?
Drivers may contact the Arkansas Online Insurance Verification System (AOIVS) at (855) 353-9777 to review their accounts and, if necessary, pay the reinstatement fees or review the current status of the vehicle with the service representative or clear the pending suspension if the vehicle has been sold, traded or damaged in an accident. Folks may also contact AOVIS via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I don't have insurance, or if I don't have a valid driver's license, can I register a vehicle purchase?
Under Arkansas law you cannot register or operate a vehicle without proper insurance and a valid driver's license.