Drivers without insurance, licenses hike up insurance rates; City of Cleveland to run license checks

CLEVELAND - Lavern Moore of Euclid held up her Ohio driver's license and shouted, "Here's my valid driver's license; mine is current. How about yours?"

Moore is fed up with a growing number of northeast Ohio residents who are driving their vehicles while under suspension.

"Our insurance rates are higher because of these irresponsible drivers," Moore said. "We need to make the penalty a little stiffer. More of these people should serve jail time, that's the only way were going to get their attention."

Euclid State Farm insurance agent Andre Payten confirmed that suspended drivers are responsible for higher insurance costs.

"We all pay more because we have to pay more claims where we shouldn't have," Payten said. "If we pay more, it's going to affect our insurance rates overall."

Payten said he also believes Ohio's random insurance checks sent out through the mail are also indirectly driving up insurance rates.

"On the average, there are 5,400 letters are mailed out randomly by the state of Ohio to licensed, registered vehicle owners, asking them to verify insurance," said Payten. "If an insurance verification doesn't occur, then the next step is a suspension."

Payten understands more drivers are taking risks because they simply can't afford coverage in this tough economy. But he said he believes it's a "pay me now, or pay me later" scenario.

"The bottom line, you're going to pay now by having good quality insurance or you're going to pay later if you have a claim, or you lose your license," Payten said.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Safety Director Martin Flask explained the city will be on the hunt for motorists without insurance, or those who are behind the wheel without a valid driver's license.

This summer, Cleveland will host several license and insurance checkpoints. Unlike sobriety checkpoints, the city does not have to publish the checkpoint locations in advance. Drivers caught without insurance or a valid license, could lose their driving privileges or face heavy fines.

"People take the risk; people aren't wise about it. They think they're going to escape the consequences," Flask said. "To those people who don't have insurance or have a suspended license, my recommendation is have someone else drive you, take public transportation, there are alternatives."

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