OKLAHOMA CITY - Legislation approved this week in a House committee would authorize the use of automated license plate readers to flag uninsured motorists at a time when Oklahoma leads the nation in uninsured motorists on the road.

One in four vehicles in Oklahoma does not have insurance, state Rep. Ken Walker said. Senate Bill 359, by Sen. Corey Brooks and Walker, would authorize law enforcement to compare the license plate number with an Oklahoma Insurance Department list to determine if the owner of the plate has insurance.

Walker said as a privacy rights advocate, he tries to balance enforcement needs with privacy issues. The legislation does require that license plate photographs that are shown to be of insured vehicles must be destroyed. Furthermore, a second bill, Senate Bill 1144, by Sen. Nathan Dahm and Walker, creates the Automatic License Plate Reader Privacy Act. It makes the misuse of data subject to legal action and provides that captured data is not a public record.

“On the one hand we want law enforcement to be effective, but we don’t want them to overreach and sell that data or make it public,” said Walker, R-Tulsa. “These two bills together ensure that we can help law enforcement spot uninsured motorists, but we don’t have to give away our privacy.”

Senate Bill 359 and Senate Bill 1144 were both approved by the House Appropriations Committee Thursday by votes of 20-5 and 22-3, respectively. This week is the last week by which Senate bills can be heard in House committees.