Hoping to drive down Oklahoma’s high automobile insurance rates, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted May 25 to crack down on uninsured drivers.
House Bill 3115, by state Rep. Ron Peterson, would create an online insurance verification pilot program in Oklahoma that would allow law enforcement officials to immediately identify uninsured drivers.
“This is a big problem that has gone unaddressed for years,” said Peterson, R-Broken Arrow. “Across Oklahoma, people have asked that the Legislature address this problem in a meaningful manner. This bill is the first major legislation that will curb unlawful driving and in doing so drive down insurance costs.”
Under the bill, the verification system will be installed and operational no later than July 1, 2008
Under current law, drivers must provide only a paper insurance verification form when stopped by police. However, many drivers obtain that form by making an initial payment on insurance, then dropping the coverage once the form has been received.
Officials estimate as many as one-third of vehicles on Oklahoma roads are uninsured and are driven in violation of state law.
“Online verification will eliminate one of the biggest loopholes in state insurance law – people with an insurance verification form who actually have no coverage,” Peterson said. “House Bill 3115 will give police an instant-check system so uninsured motorists don’t evade accountability.”
Under the bill’s provisions, the police could seize a driver’s license or remove the license plate from the car if a person is driving without insurance. Uninsured drivers would receive a citation and be allowed to drive home, but could not return to the road until they obtained coverage and recovered their license plate.
“If police remove the plate from your car, you will be clearly marked as an uninsured driver,” Peterson said. “That’s going to create a strong incentive to take care of your insurance problem.”
The bill also establishes penalties for selling or using fake verification forms.
Peterson predicted the instant-check system will drive down the number of uninsured drivers in Oklahoma and eliminate their impact on law-abiding citizens’ auto insurance rates.
“Everything in this bill will make auto insurance more affordable for Oklahomans,” Peterson said.
House Bill 3115 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 98-0 vote and now proceeds to the state Senate for a final vote.
Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives
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