Local Politics

Bill Would Tag Felony on Drivers With Illegal Plates

Posted May 17, 2007 6:15 p.m. EDT

— State lawmakers are cracking down on out-of-state drivers who register their cars in North Carolina to save on insurance.

Compared to most other states, car insurance is a bargain in North Carolina. That is attracting people from elsewhere who are willing to break the law for a break on their insurance rates.

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Long said motorists flock to North Carolina from expensive insurance states, such as New Jersey and New York. They give fake local addresses and get cheaper insurance and tags.

"They're coming down here literally by the bus load," Long said.

According to police, at least 39 residents of Dover, N.J., listed the same home outside Raleigh as their bogus address.

"I would venture to say that the only time they were in North Carolina was the day they got their license," Capt. Peter Ugaldi of the Dover Police Department told WBTV, a Charlotte affiliate of WRAL.

Ugaldi said police in Dover have spotted at least 1,000 North Carolina plates in their town in recent years.

A bill that would make such "rate evasion" a felony passed the House Insurance Committee on Thursday and will go before the full House for a vote.

Investigators want the state Division of Motor Vehicles and insurance agents to improve how they verify where people live.

"The goal in all this is to protect the rates being charged to North Carolina drivers by keeping those from other states from buying insurance down here, then going back up north and having wrecks and costing all of us," Long said.

Long also said he believes it's too easy for illegal immigrants to get insurance, license plates and other documents by using fake addresses.