Crackdown On Uninsured Motorists

Monday, March 5th 2007, 6:09 am
By: News On 6

A bill is moving through the State Senate that would protect Oklahomans from uninsured drivers. Those drivers can cost everyone else big bucks in damages and higher insurance premiums, and current law allows a driver who is ticketed to drive away after receiving the ticket. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office says that since 2003, more than 91,000 drivers have been ticketed for violating the state's liability insurance law. News on 6 anchor Craig Day reports the new measure could mean cars driven by uninsured drivers could be impounded, on the spot.

When an uninsured driver hit Charlie Causey's daughter's car, it caused about $1,800 in damage and a lot of frustration.

"You can see the marks here and here where it went in. What it did then it jammed the muffler clear up under the car," said the Tulsa resident.

The driver didn't have insurance, so Causey's daughter was stuck with the repair bill and medical expenses.

"We found out later that he was dismissed, then to drive away, and possibly run into to someone else and create even more problems," said Causey.

A proposal by State Senator Patrick Anderson of Enid would give authorities the ability to seize the vehicles of drivers who fail to show proof of liability insurance.

"At least that way he can't go down the street and run into somebody else," Causey said.

The Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma shares the desire to do something about uninsured motorists. But they say technology needs to be upgraded to provide safeguards for innocent drivers, so their vehicles aren't impounded. Anderson said someone who has liability insurance but simply forgets to carry proof of it in his or her vehicle would likely not have to forfeit the vehicle.

As for Charlie Causey, he hopes something can be done to get uninsured drivers off the road.

"The way it is, it's not the damage so much as it is the principal," said Causey.

Sometimes uninsured drivers buy liability insurance in order to get the car registered, and then they drop it when the registration is completed. The measure's author hopes a new on the spot impound law would stop many drivers from doing that.