By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Until now when an officer wrote out a traffic ticket, they couldn't check to make sure that a person with an insurance form actually had insurance. Now they can.
A good number of Oklahoma drivers don't have insurance which is a real problem if they cause an accident. A new verification system can check whether a person has insurance anytime they're stopped by police or if they go in to renew their tag.
Oklahoma tag agents like Virginia Jones are the first line of defense against uninsured drivers. Whenever someone renews their car tag, they're required to have an insurance verification form. The new online system allows tag agents to make sure the form is real.
"And, it's really just letting us have verification they have valid insurance where before it didn't. We just entered the information and we went on," said Virginia Jones with the Downtown Tag Agency.
The second line of defense is law enforcement, which until now also relied on those paper insurance forms. Now they'll be able to tell if the car is really insured.
"When an officer runs a tag for vehicle registration check, the insurance information comes back to that officer in addition to the registration information," said Captain Chris West with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
The new system is one of the first in the country to provide real time insurance verification to tag agents and police.
"There's a lot of insurance verification forms out there that are actually bogus, either manufactured or they're altered," said Captain Chris West with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
The insurance companies support the new system by allowing access to the information.
"I think having that instant verification allows all entities to help solve one of the biggest challenges we have, which is the uninsured motorist problem in Oklahoma," said Gregor Scott with Farmers Insurance.
Scott says insurance costs more for people who buy it because so many people go without and hope they won't be caught.
"When you consider that one in four drivers in Oklahoma are uninsured, obviously that does inflate insurance costs," said Gregor Scott with Farmers Insurance.
The state still requires drivers have the insurance form in the car. The ticket for driving without insurance is $211 and it can lead to the suspension of a driver's license.