Russell Hulstine and Ashli Sims, News on 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa city officials want to give Tulsa Police more flexibility to tow vehicles owned by uninsured drivers.
A state law approved last year allows law enforcement to impound uninsured vehicles involved in a traffic stop or a crash.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Police Chief Chuck Jordan held a news conference at city hall Wednesday afternoon, where they pushed for making the city's ordinance to mirror state law.
Tulsa police officers say uninsured drivers are a constant problem.
"If I towed every car that I stopped that didn't have valid insurance. I'd be towing every other car that I stopped," said Tulsa Police Officer Adam Dawson.
TPD reports so far this year it has pulled over 13,000 drivers who didn't have proof of insurance. Last year, that number was nearly 18,000.
"If you get involved in a traffic collision there's a one in five chance that the person you got involved in that collision with won't have insurance," Chief Jordan said.
The police chief and the mayor want to amend a city ordinance to allow officers to tow the vehicles of drivers who can't prove they're insured.
"The point of this ordinance is not to tow vehicles. That's not in our business," said Mayor Bartlett. "But our business is to protect the citizens who are abiding by the law."
A state law towing uninsured drivers is already on the books. In fact, TPD towed six cars in the first six days after the law went into effect last November.
Local leaders say a city ordinance would clarify some vagueness in the state statute and be specific to the city of Tulsa.
TPD says it would also change its internal policies to match the city ordinance.
If the ordinance is passed, Chief Jordan says officers would not be allowed to pull drivers over just to check for insurance. It has to be linked to another traffic violation or during an accident.
So what happens if you're an insured driver who just doesn't have proof? The chief says officers would still have some discretion on whether to tow or not.