Group Wants Uninsured Oklahoma Drivers To Pay Up

Tuesday, February 5th 2013, 6:40 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Drivers on the road without insurance pose a huge financial risk for everybody who might get into an accident. But there's a new effort to force more people to get insurance.

Of all the cars on our roads - about one in four isn't covered by insurance. It's against the law, but for many people that doesn't matter, because it's unlikely they'll be caught.

Sheriff's deputies says they hear it all the time on traffic stops.

"It's a lot cheaper to try to avoid the law for a year, or two instead of paying insurance premiums, than to get caught and pay the fine of a ticket," said Major Shannon Clark, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

In Oklahoma's 25 percent of the drivers are uninsured. That comes out to 563,000 uninsured cars on the road.

The state insurance commissioner is urging the legislature to crack down.

"And the hardworking people of the state of Oklahoma keep asking - 'I have insurance, but what's happening to the people without insurance?' It affects all of us that have insurance," said John Doak, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner.

Doak has assembled a coalition of groups to push for changes. Their model is a Louisiana law that cut the percentage of uninsured drivers there in half.

"This is a huge deal for AAA," said Chuck Mai, AAA Oklahoma. "We need to reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the roads of Oklahoma. We're all paying for it, but it's time that stopped."

When officers stop a driver without insurance now - they can write a $250 tickets and have the car towed. The proposed new law give officers the new option of taking the tag, without towing the car.

Drivers without insurance would have to pay a new $125 fee, and a larger fine - $500.

Major Clark supports a crackdown, but worries about deputies trying to remove car tags on the side of the road.

"It's easier to tow the whole car, write them a citation - tow the car, it's easier, at least for us," said Major Shannon Clark, TSCO.

The new law would also create a new forced insurance policy paid for by the heavier fines. But that would mean that any car without insurance would immediately have insurance - protecting the other drivers on the road.