Motor Vehicle Responsibility Statute Enacted More Reform Needed

Representing Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Nearby Areas of Florida

Last week Governor Crist took a meaningful first step toward motor vehicle responsibility reform in Florida by signing the Motor Vehicle Responsibility Act. This new statute requires drivers with convictions of driving under the influence (DUI) to purchase and maintain mandatory insurance coverage in order to drive legally. The coverage must include $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for the first injured person, $300,000 for two or more injured people, and $50,000 in property damage coverage.
This mandatory liability insurance coverage is a good first step to make those operating automobiles and trucks on our highways financially responsible for injuries to others, but more reform is needed. For example, the powerful car rental company lobby was able to convince the legislature a few years ago to enact a cap on its responsibility as owner of a vehicle it rents to $100,000. That statute should be repealed and the amount of liability limits increased. These car rental companies are billion dollar industries who put dangerous instrumentalities, motor vehicles, in the hands of out of state and foreign drivers who often have no insurance coverage of their own and who can often escape the jurisdiction against lawsuits brought by Florida residents they injure. Rental car companies should be held responsible for the use of their many vehicles, just like everyone else. Likewise, all motor vehicle owners should be required to have mandatory bodily injury liability coverage in an amount of at least $100,000. Florida does NOT require auto owners to have liability coverage for injury to others unless they are commercial business vehicle owners. This is wrong. If you are going to drive a car on Florida roads, you ought to have to have insurance to protect someone you injure in an accident that is your fault. It is only fair that people take personal responsibility for ownership of a motor vehicle they put on the roadways, including being required to buy insurance to protect anyone they injure in an accident.

 

We applaud Governor Crist for enacting this law, but more reform is needed to make motor vehicle owners and operators fully accountable for any injury or damages they cause on Florida highways. It’s not fair for the law to allow some to escape accountability and still have the privilege of operating, owning, or renting vehicles in our state.

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