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New auto insurance law requires motorists to be covered by June 1

Wisconsin motorists will have until next June 1 to buy auto insurance if they don't have it already.

The new state budget makes Wisconsin the second-to-last state to make drivers be insured, leaving New Hampshire as the lone holdout.

But critics say many younger and poorer drivers will ignore the new law, especially with the higher coverage minimums that take effect Jan. 1.

Insurer Mark Lindow says a 21- to 24-year-old Milwaukee driver might pay up to $700 every six months.

But deputy state insurance commissioner Kimberly Shaul says most drivers already exceed the new minimums of $50,000 for one person's injury, $100,000 for injuries per accident, and $15,000 for property damage.

Some states require low-cost policies for poorer drivers. And Senate Democrat John Lehman of Racine says he might consider such a bill in the future.

He put the insurance mandate in the budget, after failing for years to get lawmakers to pass it on its own merits.

He says people generally believe drivers should be responsible enough to have it. But many ignore insurance laws.

The Insurance Research Council said almost 14 percent of all drivers nationally were uninsured in 2007, just below Wisconsin's average of 15 percent.

Also, the Department of Transportation must decide how violators will be caught if they're not covered.

Police will ask the drivers they stop to produce insurance cards. If they have coverage but no card they'll be fined $10. Those without insurance can be fined $500.