Oklahoma Drivers Face New Penalty For Driving Without Insurance

Monday, November 1st 2010, 6:43 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- There's a new penalty for driving without insurance: officers can have your car impounded.

That's in addition to just getting a ticket. The towing for lack of insurance law is new on books, along with other new laws that can impact drivers.

6/24/2010 Related Story: Governor Brad Henry Signs Bill To Impound Uninsured Vehicles

Tulsa Police Officer Craig Murray says nearly 9,000 drivers were ticketed last year, just in Tulsa, for not having proof of insurance.  Instead of just giving out tickets, police can now impound the car. But officers cannot stop a driver just to check.

"We don't have something that tells us you don't have insurance unless we come into contact with you and that would be you being stopped for a violation of the law, or you being in a crash and we have to ask you for license and registration," Officer Murray said.

Another new law allows motorcycle riders to legally go through a red light when they are at a traffic signal.  It only applies at intersections with sensors in the pavement or cameras overhead that don't trigger when a motorcycle approaches. Motorcyclists must make a complete stop first and there must be no approaching traffic.

"If there are no other vehicles coming and they've waited a sufficient amount of time and that's going to be hard to define what is sufficient, but they can proceed through, treating it as if it were a stop sign," Officer Murray said.

Several new laws affect drivers talking or texting with cell phones. For teenagers with graduated licenses, it's a ban with the only exception being a real emergency, and ordinary teen drama doesn't count.

There's a new ban on texting for public transit drivers that also applies to school bus drivers. For most adults, texting and talking is still legal, but when it becomes inattentive driving, a new law allows officers to stop drivers before they have an accident.

"In the past if you were inattentive driving you were texting, talking on the phone, unless that caused you to have a collision, we could not stop you and write you a ticket for that," Officer Murray said.