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Calloway District Court to Offer Probation Program for Car Insurance Offenders

John Null/WKMS

Calloway County’s District Judge and County Attorney are partnering to offer a new probation program to people who are cited for not having car insurance.

If you’re pulled over in Kentucky and found to not have car insurance, a first offense can net a fine between $500 and $1,000 and as much as 90 days in jail.

District Judge Randy Hutchens says the goal is to get people insured and slapping them with a hefty fine on a first offense doesn’t help. He says, under the new program, offenders will pay $20 a month to Drive Safe Kentucky, a private monitoring company based in Lexington that will make sure they are maintaining their insurance for 12 months.

“I see it as a preventative program, rather than punitive, because $20 a month is not excessive," Hutchens said. "It’s better than me giving them a large fine and then waiting for them to get caught again and then give them larger fines and jail.”

Calloway County Attorney Bryan Ernstberger said the program makes offenders "$500 more likely" to pay for insurance.

"“And then also, at the conclusion of two years, because for a lot of people this could be a mistake, they can have that off their record, have it dismissed," Ernstberger said.

Ernstberger said, upon taking office last year, he was shocked at the number of local lack-of-insurance cases, with around 30 defendants in traffic court each week.

The new probation program goes into effect next week. Hutchens said he has continued several cases so defendants can have access to this system. Those in the program will have to pay courts costs and restitution, as ordered by the court.

John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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