Oklahoma Bills Aim to Crack Down on Uninsured Drivers

Oklahoma uninsured motorist rateOklahoma police could get new tools to combat the state’s uninsured motorist problem if state lawmakers approve two new bills.

One of the bills would broaden the situations in which police could tow a resident’s car for being uninsured, while the second would make it so that police could stop motorists if a state database indicates that they’re driving an uninsured auto.

The Sooner state has one of the worst uninsured motorist problems in the nation. According to Insurance Research Council reports that used data from 2007 and 2009, about 24 percent of drivers in the state were on the road without any Oklahoma car insurance coverage.

That’s double the nationwide average of about 14 percent.

In an effort to better identify uninsured cars, the state established a database that matches vehicle registrations up with policy information supplied by car insurance companies issuing policies in the state. When a car in the database is registered but has no matching policy, it’s likely to be uninsured.

But police currently cannot pull a driver over simply because that driver appears in the database to be driving an uninsured vehicle.

Rather, Oklahoma law dictates that driving without a policy is a secondary offense, meaning that you can only be cited if you’re already stopped for another type of infraction.

House Bill 2525 would change that.

If the bill passes, police would be legally allowed to run the license plate numbers of a vehicle on the road to see if it come up as a no-match on the database. And if it did, they’d be able to pull over the offending motorist and cite them for that reason alone.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill that barred certain recovery rights for drivers who were uninsured at the time of an accident.

Under the so-called “no pay, no play” law, which took effect in November 2011, uninsured drivers injured in a crash cannot collect for pain and suffering damages that were the result of the accident, regardless of who was at fault.

Supporters of the law said it would discourage motorists from getting behind the wheel without a policy.

A first-time offense for driving uninsured in the Sooner State brings with it a $250 fine, and offenders can have their licenses suspended until they pay the fine and can prove that coverage are in place. Police were also authorized by the Legislature in 2010 to seize and tow any uninsured vehicles.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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