CALDWELL — Canyon County has been flooded with calls in recent weeks from residents with questions about the new proof of insurance law targeting uninsured drivers.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires the Idaho Transportation Department to determine monthly whether registered vehicles are insured.
As the change nears, drivers have been calling the county assessor’s Motor Vehicle and Title Registration Office with questions — but those questions are better directed to ITD, Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker said.
Assessor’s office staff sometimes have a caller on one line and an ITD representative on the other while trying to relay questions and answers between the two, Decker said.
“(County staff) have limited access to information about the program, and sometimes it is (the assessor’s office) calling ITD and translating the questions back and forth,” Decker said. “It is way easier if people call the ITD office.”
The new law, HB 179, creates a verification system that will allow ITD to match information from DMV registration records with insurance records to determine whether a vehicle is insured.
Drivers who maintain insurance on their vehicles year-round likely won’t notice anything new, the Post Register reported last month. Insurance companies already report which vehicles have insurance to the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles — information that police can access and routinely check during traffic stops.
What is new, though, is that the state will cross-check vehicle identification numbers every month against its database of registered vehicles, according to the Post Register article.
When vehicle registrations are identified as having no valid insurance for two consecutive months, ITD is required to notify the vehicle owner. Owners will have 30 days to provide proof of insurance or provide an exception to ITD, or the registration will be suspended.
To reinstate a suspended registration, owners will need to provide proof of insurance and pay a fee of $75.
Decker said people will need to pay the $75 directly to ITD and not bring the money into the Canyon County DMV office. He said the payment can be made over the phone or through an ITD portal online.
Vince Trimboli, spokesman for ITD, told the Post Register the transportation department expects about 150,000 vehicles, or about 8% of registered vehicles in Idaho, to receive initial notices due to lack of insurance after the law takes effect.
“We have a lot of uninsured vehicles on the road,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, according to the Post Register, “and it’s been a real problem if you’ve ever been hit by an uninsured motorist.”