Orleans is first county to implement diversion program for people caught driving without insurance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 November 2018 at 4:03 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: District Attorney Joe Cardone is shown speaking at a community forum on Nov. 30, 2017. He is leading the effort for the new program to compel motorists to get insurance.

ALBION – Orleans County is expanding a traffic diversion program to include people caught driving without insurance.

The county since 2010 has had a traffic diversion program for many first-time traffic offenders for infractions such as speeding, failure to yield, and failure to obey a stop sign.

They pay a $200 fee and enroll in a defensive driving class. In exchange, the ticket is dismissed. In fact, it will never show up on the driver’s record. In more than eight years, the fees paid just passed $1 million, said Susan Howard, the coordinator of the program and also the assistant district attorney.

That money has all stayed with local municipalities, and has been shared by the county, towns and villages.

About 5,000 people have participated in the program since its inception. The county beginning on Nov. 1 expanded the program to include people without automobile insurance.

If there are no other infractions, the drivers will likely be accepted in the program. The fee is $400, and they must get car insurance and complete a test about safe driving.

District Attorney Joe Cardone has been leading the effort to expand the program. The county is partnering with the New York Public Safety Company, which will provide mobile license plate readers to patrol cars for law enforcement agencies in the county.

New York Public Safety Company will receive $140 of the $400 fee. The company will also help manage the insurance diversion program and is looking to open an office in Albion.

“There is a great cost to community of people driving without insurance,” Cardone said.

With the diversion program, people who are caught without insurance won’t face criminal charges. And they will be spared up to $2,500 in fines and other costs. They also won’t lose their license.

If they complete the program, pay the $400 fee and show proof of insurance, the ticket will be dismissed.

“Our diversion program has been extremely successful,” Cardone said today. “Orleans County is now first in state to do it with insurance. We expect some of the other counties will do it.”

Lou Piccone, a former Buffalo Bills wide receiver, is the New York director of New York Public Safety Company. He said the goal of the program is compliance, to have all motorists get insurance.

That should reduce the premiums for the people who have been paying for insurance, because right now they pick up the costs for those in accidents without coverage, he said.

“No one should be on the road uninsured,” Piccone said today by phone.

The company is partnering first with Orleans, and then expects to expand the program in the state.

“It’s a manageable county,” Piccone said about Orleans. “There is a diversion program already in place and that allows the county to put this in play very easily.”

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