Thursday, June 24, 2010

Martin: Uninsured Vehicles Can Now Be Impounded

Under legislation recently signed into law by the governor, law enforcement agencies will be able to impound vehicles driven by uninsured drivers, a legislator said today.

“I am proud to see this legislation become law. It will get uninsured motorists off the road so that those motorists who do obey the law will have one less thing to worry about,” said Rep. Steve Martin (R-Nowata, Washington, Osage Counties). “I am constantly told by the voters in my district that they are fed up with this problem.”

House Bill 2331, by Martin, takes advantage of a recently activated instant-verification system available to law enforcement officers. The system allows officers to immediately determine if vehicles are covered by qualifying liability insurance.

“Now law enforcement officers can instantly determine if a car is insured by entering the license tag number into an onboard computer or by having that done by a dispatcher,” Martin said.

Under House Bill 2331, if a car is uninsured, it could be seized immediately by the officer and towed to an impoundment lot until the owner of the vehicle can produce proof of ownership, proof of insurance, and a valid driver’s license. Upon paying for the tow and any storage, the vehicle can be redeemed.

The instant verification system, ordered by an act of the state Legislature in 2006, has been created through cooperation of the insurance industry and the State of Oklahoma. It is now fully operational and has been available to law enforcement for several months. Up to this time, however, law enforcement has had no power to seize an uninsured vehicle or to use results of the instant verification system as a primary cause to stop a vehicle. Law enforcement would have both of these tools available when the law goes into effect on November 1, 2010.

“It has been estimated that one in four cars on Oklahoma roads has no liability insurance in spite of our mandatory insurance law,” Martin said. “My hope is that this new law will reduce the number of victims of these uninsured motorists.”

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