|Ohio's Financial Responsibility Law||
The purpose of the FR law is to assure compensation to victims when injuries or damages are sustained in a crash. Under Ohios FR law, motorists are required to sign a separate form acknowledging financial responsibility upon application for a new or renewed drivers license and when vehicle license plates are purchased or renewed.
Financial responsibility requirements
There are several ways a motorist can meet FR law requirements. Only one of the following proofs of financial responsibility must be maintained:
FR proof requirements
Proof of FR is required for motorists:
One method of proving FR is by showing an auto insurance identification card. ID cards are provided by insurers upon issuance or renewal of an auto insurance policy. The card should be kept with the insured vehicle so it will be readily available upon request.
Ways to prove FR
When law enforcement officers request FR proof and motorists dont have it available, they are given a notice explaining the options to provide such proof. The options include:
Failure to comply initiates the BMVs suspension process.
FR satisfaction via insurance
If a person satisfies the law by carrying insurance, the minimum liability limits allowable by law are: bodily injury liability, $12,500 per person and $25,000 per accident; and property damage liability, $7,500 per accident.
Since some irresponsible drivers may choose to ignore the FR law, the inclusion of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists (UM/UIM) auto insurance coverages should be considered. UM/UIM coverages provide protection for injuries caused by out-of-state drivers, at-fault uninsured motorists, hit-and-run drivers and at-fault drivers whose policy limits are insufficient to cover losses.
Penalties are listed in the chart below. Since September, 1997, first-time FR law violators are given occupational driving privileges after serving 30 days of the 90-day license suspension period, as long as they have obtained FR compliance and paid reinstatement fees. First-time offenders accruing 12 points under Ohios point system for traffic violations or convicted of a serious moving violation are ineligible for occupational driving privileges. This law change was included in Am. Sub. HB 261.
Report filing optional for crash victims
Drivers involved in a motor vehicle crash resulting in bodily injury, death or causing more than $400 in property damage should consider filing a Motor Vehicle Crash Report with the BMV, FR Division, if they suspect that the others involved in the crash were uninsured.
This report is different from reports taken by law enforcement officials at the accident scene. This optional filing process can be done within six months of the crash date. Once filed, the report provides the BMV with necessary information to contact the alleged driver(s) for FR proof. If proof cannot be provided, the license suspension process begins. Ohio Motor Vehicle Crash Report forms are available from Ohio Highway Patrol posts, insurance agents or companies, other law enforcement agencies or the Ohio Insurance Institute. Form 3135 is also available from the BMVs website at www.state.oh.us/odps/division/bmv/frm_dnld.html.
FR Task Force update
The Task Force on the Enforcement of the Financial Responsibility Laws of Ohio released its final report to the Governor during 1998. The task force was organized to review the effectiveness of Ohios FR law and to make future recommendations. The task force reported that, in general, Ohios FR laws are working as intended and accomplished the goals set out in the original legislation. Modifications in the law based on the task forces review included a simplification in the insurance verification process, the creation of a better system for monitoring compliance, and working with law enforcement to improve its efforts in confirming compliance during routine stops for vehicle traffic violations.
The law passed in 1995 called for the formation of this task force to seek ways to verify FR compliance, which is where the FR random verification program got its start. The pilot program began on December 7, 1998.
Random verification program
This process includes mailing letters to a random selection (5%) of registered Ohio vehicle and noncommercial truck ownersabout 5,400 notices per week (280,000 notices each year).
Recipients of letters are given 21 days to respond to this first request for FR proof. The BMV then allows up to 10 days before the first Notice of Suspension is mailed. This Notice allows a 60-day grace period in which the individual may still provide FR proof prior to the suspension taking effect.
A second Notice of Suspension is sent via certified mail 42 days before the start of the suspension. This is to ensure that the BMV has the proper mailing address for the registered vehicle owner. Considering this, there is actually a three-month period for an individual to prove FR compliance prior to being placed under suspension.
For answers to questions regarding the random verification program, contact the FR hotline at 1-800-636-9825.
Recent random verification action
Questions and concerns have been raised regarding the process and cost of the FR random verification program. Some concerns centered around the inconvenience of completing the verification form and paying for its return postage.
A study committee was appointed by the Governor in late 2000 to research the program. ODPS has suggested this committee may discuss the creation of an electronic link between insurers and the BMV to check FR compliance, and an evaluation of the current random verification process. This committee is required to report its findings back to the General Assembly by September 2001.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a driver at .08 BAC is 11 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver.