FILE - Chicago, Ill. from the I-90, highway

(The Center Square) – The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office is going after uninsured drivers with a new system of random checks.

Nearly 2,700 Illinois license plates have been suspended in the past two months since the program went into effect.

The state’s new system, called the Illinois Insurance Verification System, automatically verifies a vehicle owner’s insurance status at least twice a year at random intervals.

Several years ago, the Secretary of State’s office and the Illinois Insurance Association determined that several other states were successful in getting a higher percentage of motorists insured when they used random electronic checks to identify uninsured drivers.

Prior the new system, the Secretary of State’s office randomly checked for insurance each year about 3% of the 10 million registered vehicles.

“The old system entailed mailing out to people randomly,” agency spokesman Dave Druker said. “We would do hundreds of thousands of them to people and ask them to respond, and to some degree, it put a burden on people to justify that they had insurance.”

Drivers identified as uninsured through the new system receive a letter with instructions on how to obtain car insurance or prove they’re already insured. If they fail do so, the vehicle’s registration is suspended and the vehicle owner is charged $100 to reinstate it. About 7,000 have been sent out since July 1.

Motorists who get a letter from the Secretary of State’s office are asked to contact an insurance agent regarding car insurance. There is no need to contact the Secretary of State.

Some some have raised concerns about the electronic verification system, saying it is equivalent to spying. 

The state said the program is paid for by the insurance companies and puts no burden on Illinois taxpayers.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.