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Illinois is getting tougher on uninsured drivers with a new state law that more than doubles the penalties for motorists who are caught driving without coverage multiple times.

The law, which takes effect in January, mandates that anyone with two or more previous convictions for driving uninsured who is again caught driving without coverage and causes bodily harm in an accident must pay a fine of $2,500.

Motorists who drive uninsured in the state already face fines of $500 to $1,000 for doing so and can have their driving privileges revoked for three months, after which they will have to pay a $100 reinstatement fee. The new law goes a step further and calls for a $1,000 fine for motorists who are convicted of a third or subsequent charge of operating a vehicle without insurance.

Anyone caught driving before their privileges are reinstated would face an additional six-month suspension.

The legislation, which was signed in August by Gov. Pat Quinn, is not Illinois’ first attempt to stiffen penalties for uninsured motorists.

A law that took effect in 2006 mandated license suspension for motorists found guilty of driving uninsured, among other penalties.

According to the Insurance Research Council, an estimated 15 percent of drivers were on the road without Illinois car insurance in 2009.

Authorities say uninsured motorists in all states force law-abiding drivers to purchase additional coverage to financially protect themselves in the event they get into an accident caused by a driver who has no coverage and is unable to cover the cost of injuries and damages.

(Image Source: Insurance Research Council)

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