WSVN — Most people know, to drive in Florida you must have car insurance, but there are hundreds of thousands of drivers who don’t, and if you’re hit by one of them, the consequences can be staggering. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.

Carrie Currier says she saved money for five years to buy her scooter.

Carrie Currier: “The scooter meant freedom for us. It meant we could go grocery shopping, I could get to my doctor’s appointments, I could do things I needed to do instead of walking.”

These days, the 47-year-old can’t walk without help. Carrie’s last ride on her scooter ended in Plantation. She was heading south on Pine Island Road when a car turned in front of her and the two collided.

Carrie was the only one injured. She suffered a punctured lung, and she broke her pelvis, knee, ankle and ribs.

Carrie Currier: “There was damage to my spleen, damage to my liver. Didn’t hit my head, though.”

She spent almost a month in a medically-induced coma.

Carrie Currier: “They told my mom that she should probably start making funeral arrangements, that if I ever left ICU, that I would be an extremely lucky woman.”

The driver of the car was ticketed for failure to yield to oncoming traffic and for not providing proof of insurance. But Carrie feels that wasn’t enough.

Carrie Currier: “I find it sickening. I find it disgusting and so unfair. I think he should have been arrested. At the minimum, his car towed. I mean, at the minimum his car towed.”

But that’s not how the law works. In Florida, whether an uninsured driver is pulled over for a routine traffic stop, or is involved in a serious crash, the result is a citation, not an arrest.

Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Wysocky: “If you have no insurance, you have no insurance. There’s no variation in the charge compared to the accident that you’re involved in.”

And there are a lot of uninsured drivers in Florida. Just how many depends on who you ask. The state says between five and six percent of Florida drivers don’t have insurance, while others say the number is close to a whopping 24 percent.

Judge Jane Fishman: “Carrie Currier.”

Carrie went to traffic court hoping to confront the driver when he showed up to deal with his tickets, but he wasn’t there. His attorney questioned witnesses who said the headlight on Carrie’s scooter was dim.

The judge found him not guilty of failure to yield. And it turns out the ticket for no insurance had been dismissed.

Judge Jane Fishman: “I don’t know why it was dismissed in this case.”

7News discovered a hearing officer dismissed the ticket two months earlier, after the driver provided proof of insurance, but documents show he did not have insurance until after the accident.

Carrie Currier: “I find it disturbing, that he was able to buy insurance two days later and then get it completely dismissed without even so much as a fine.”

And since Carrie says she was not required to have insurance for her scooter and did not have uninsured motorist coverage, she is facing lifelong disability issues.

Carmel Cafiero: “The victims of uninsured drivers are not the only ones paying dearly for people who ignore insurance requirements. Payouts for uninsured coverage are in the billions of dollars, and those costs are passed down to people who follow the law and buy insurance. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.”

Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE


Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox