La. Committee Passes Proposal to Tow Cars Lacking Insurance

A proposal in Louisiana instituting harsher towing penalties on motorists lacking coverage received a favorable report from a state Senate committee today that advances the legislation to the Senate chamber for final consideration.

HB 1053 would permit police to, if they found that a driver did not have proper coverage, tow a vehicle on the first offense. The legislation repeals current law that specifically forbids towing of first-time violators, instead requiring that police issue notices of noncompliance and leaving towing discretion up to officers for second or subsequent offenses.

The proposed legislation should spur uninsured motorists to buy car insurance online or through an agent to cover themselves and avoid possibly harsher penalties.

The bill would “put the teeth back into the state’s compulsory coverage law,” according to Rep. Ray Garafalo (R-Meraux), who sponsored the legislation and presented it to the Senate Committee on Transportation, Highway and Public Works on May 17.

State police currently have no way to track the number of violations a driver violates the law requiring financial responsibility, according to Garafalo, and applying harsher towing penalties would help bring down the number of uninsured motorists in the state.

An estimated 13 percent of drivers in Louisiana lacked proper coverage in 2009, according to the Insurance Research Council, slightly below the national average of 13.8 percent.

Louisiana State Police Lt. Jason Starnes attended the committee hearing to express the agency’s support for the bill. Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington (R-Keithville) motioned for the committee’s favorable report that passed without objection.

Electronic Proof Bill Passes La. Senate Unanimously

The state Senate passed HB 1130 on May 16 with unanimous support of the bill that allows motorists to display electronic devices as a form of proving they have coverage. The state Senate vote was 39-0; the state House passed the legislation by a 94-0 vote in late April.

After the state Senate’s passage, the proposal was received by the House again for approval of a minor amendment.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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