Oklahoma City drivers may be compelled to have their vehicles impounded if they are caught driving without auto insurance, according to a bill filed in the state’s House of Representatives.
This bill, House Bill 2331, is authored by Bartlesville Rep. Steve Martin. Martin said that figures show that 25% of automobiles on the roads of Oklahoma have no liability insurance despite existence of the state’s mandatory insurance law.
The statesman added that this bill is a much needed “positive step” for Oklahoma since there have been countless stories of victims caused by motorists without insurance.
In this said proposal, a vehicle would be seized immediately if found that it does not have insurance. The patrol officer will seize the vehicle and have it transported to an impoundment lot. Only until all requirements of the law are met would the vehicle be released.
Though the system was ordered by the House in 2006, it will not be until recently that this legislation is most likely to take effect.
The Senator said that the competence of the Public Safety Department will definitely help with the measure’s success.
Real time information is made possible though a computerized system, operational since last year, which informs law officers which vehicles are covered by the minimum required insurance. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Major Rusty Rhoades said that each officer will be able to act more efficiently the moment a motorist is found without auto insurance.
Rhoades admits that this current state law is “vague” and, if not, “silent” on the issue of auto insurance. Since discretion is left to the police, much clarification provided explicitly by the bill is welcomed. He added that, in the current system, few uninsured vehicles are impounded.
Rhoades said that there are some car owners who cancel their insurance immediately after renewing their vehicle tags. He explained that insurance coverage checks are made only when actual encounters with police officers occur – like in a traffic stop or in an accident.
With this new bill, police officers would be enabled to make use of the Public Safety Department’s instant verification system to seize uninsured vehicles.
Rhoades said: “This gives law enforcement the ability to utilize a tool that the Legislature gave us even more efficiently and more effectively.”
Presently, the Oklahoma Tax Commission issued tags to about 3.3 million vehicles in the state. The Public Safety Department in 2009 was able to account for 2.6 million vehicles which are insured. Over 700,000 vehicles in the state are assumed to be uninsured since they have not appeared in the state’s insurance database.