If you’ve ever been in a motor vehicle accident, you know that there is a lot to the aftermath. Hopefully, you’ve been able to walk away without any lasting injuries. There may be just a little ding on your car’s exterior, or there may be major damage. Whatever the case, you have insurance to cover such an eventuality, and if it isn’t your fault, the other person’s insurance will cover your damages, right?
Ideally, this is true, and Georgia takes this idea very seriously. Car insurance is mandatory, and if you don’t have it, your car can’t be driven on the roads in Georgia legally. Not only that, but if your insurance lapses, your car’s registration may be cancelled as well.
The way it is supposed to work is this: when your insurance lapses for more than a day, either because you failed to renew it, or you failed to make a payment to the insurance company, the insurance company notifies the department of motor vehicles, which then sends a letter to the registered owner. If you provide proof that the insurance has been reinstated, but there has been a lapse of more than ten days, you have to pay a $25.00 lapse fee. If you don’t pay the lapse fee within 30 days of the notice, your registration will be suspended. If proof is not provided, your registration is suspended immediately. In that case you have to get insurance, pay the $25 lapse fee PLUS a $60.00 restoration fee. These fees can be waived if you can show that you did in fact have continuous insurance coverage and it was all just a big mistake. Whether or not you get this notice in the mail, don’t assume everything is ok if your insurance has lapsed for one reason or another. A simple phone call can save you a world of trouble.
Where people tend to make their mistake with this one is that they assume that once they have resolved the insurance issue, they have resolved the entire problem. This is not the case. The registration does not automatically reinstate. It is a separate issue that needs to be dealt with. The same thing happens with some automatic drivers’ license suspensions, such as for failure to appear for court or failure to pay child support. Just because you finally appear for court or pay your child support, it doesn’t mean that your license has been reinstated. You still have to go to the Department of Drivers’ Services with physical proof that you’ve resolved the issue (sometimes it is transmitted electronically, but it never hurts to have an official piece of paper you can show them) and pay a reinstatement fee to take care of it.
The suspension of the registration and drivers’ license can be automatic: the resolution never is. You can check the status of your driver’s license here: https://online.dds.ga.gov/dlstatus/default.aspx
To make things easier, whenever possible, be where you are supposed to be, pay your bills on time, and meet your obligations. Then you don’t have to worry about these things.
Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. It is being offered for informational purposes only. For individual advice, please consult an attorney.