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Uninsured motorists/safety responsibility law
The uninsured motorists/safety responsibility law was enacted in 1945 to protect those who suffer damages in accidents caused by uninsured motorists. The program provides an incentive for motorists to carry liability insurance or otherwise satisfy accident damages. The law takes away the driver license and vehicle registration of uninsured motorists who do not pay for damages or injuries they cause.
The law applies to all drivers and owners of motor vehicles who are involved in reportable accidents in Wisconsin.
The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) checks for insurance coverage on all drivers listed on an accident report. If all motorists in an accident are insured, no action is taken. If DMV determines that a driver is uninsured, the other parties involved in the accident are notified. Those who are injured or have property damages can report their injuries or damages to DMV.
DMV calculates damages
When DMV receives injury or damage reports, the accident report is reviewed to determine if the uninsured driver appears to be at fault. If so, DMV calculates a total for the damages, any injuries and estimated court costs.
Owners of uninsured vehicles
Even if you weren't driving, if your uninsured vehicle is involved in an accident, you are also liable. The registrations of all your vehicles may be suspended. If your vehicle was stolen or the driver is formally charged with auto theft, you will be released from liability. (See Wis. Stat. 344.14 and Wis. Admin. Code 100.09.)
Citations issued as a result of an accident are not considered in the safety responsibility law. Whether a citation is upheld or dismissed does not absolve you from responsibility in the accident. However, if you win a civil lawsuit regarding liability for the accident, we will close the safety responsibility case against you.
Notice of suspension and safety responsibility (SR) requirements
The DMV sends notices of suspension to the driver who appears to be at fault in the accident. The registered owner(s) of the uninsured vehicle, if different than the driver, also receives a notice of suspension. The notice states the driving and/or vehicle registration privileges will be suspended unless the driver and/or owner does any one of the following:
- Files proof of insurance showing liability insurance was in effect at the time of the accident.
- Makes a security deposit with DMV to cover the cost of the accident.
- Enters into an installment agreement to pay for the damages or injuries.
- Submits evidence that the parties involved have settled the damage or money claims directly by filing a Release of Liability form with DMV.
- Files a Security Deposit Assignment and Liability Release form with DMV.
- Requests a hearing if they feel a judgment in the amount claimed could not be rendered or if they feel they were not at fault.
A safety responsibility suspension remains in effect until the uninsured motorist complies with one of the safety responsibility requirements listed above. However, if a suspension takes effect before a hearing is requested, the suspension will continue, pending the outcome of the hearing.
The uninsured motorist may reinstate suspended privileges if, within one year of suspension, the DMV has not received notification of a pending lawsuit.
- Filing of proof of insurance for three years.
- Payment of a $60 fee, which includes reinstatement of driving privileges and/or
- $50 for reinstatement of vehicle registration privileges - use form MV3602 (Registration Reinstatement application).
When traveling out of state, you need to follow the laws of that state. That includes carrying liability insurance if that state requires it. Most states mandate that you carry liability insurance. Check with the state(s) you are traveling through for more information.
Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service
Call: (608) 266-1249
Last modified: August 31, 2011
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