Burns introduces legislation to protect Pennsylvania drivers

HARRISBURG, July 3 – Intent on protecting the state’s drivers from unnecessary tickets and fines, state Rep. Frank Burns introduced two measures that would do just that.

Burns’ first bill, H.B. 1534, would require car insurers to report a new insurance policy to the state Transportation Department. 

When a driver cancels their vehicle insurance policy, the insurer is obligated to report it to PennDOT, however there is no such requirement for insurers to report a new insurance policy. If drivers don’t realize they need to submit the new policy information, PennDOT believes they don’t have insurance, and police can hand out tickets for hundreds of dollars.

“Drivers should not have to worry about being pulled over simply because there was a gap in the reporting process between when an old and new policy is reported to the state. With this bill, PennDOT would be up to date on a vehicle’s valid insurance coverage, thereby preventing unnecessary tickets and freeing up the police’s time so they can identify vehicles that are actually uninsured,” Burns said.

His second bill, H.B. 1535, would require PennDOT to send text or email reminders for upcoming vehicle registration expirations.

In 2016, PennDOT stopped issuing registration stickers for vehicle license plates. While this has saved taxpayers millions of dollars, it also eliminated a helpful reminder for drivers to renew their registrations and has resulted in tens of thousands of additional drivers receiving citations for an expired registration.

Based on the Magisterial District Judge System, there was an average of 120,612 citations a year, representing a 36.72% increase, after Pennsylvania vehicles were no longer required to have registration stickers. And, if 2020 is omitted as an anomaly (which had a 38.74% decrease in citations due to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders), that number jumps to an average of 129,125 citations yearly, a 46.37% increase.

“Requiring receipt of that little sticker was a common way for drivers to remember when their registration was due,” Burns said. “Adding a text or email reminder to the process, in addition to the mailed registration bill that’s often sent months in advance, would be a valuable tool and will save thousands of drivers from costly fines.”

Burns noted that under the bill, the phone number or email for the reminder would need to be provided voluntarily and PennDOT would not be permitted to provide that information to third parties.

Both bills have been referred to the House Transportation Committee for review.