Program to Flag Uninsured Vehicles Misses Mark 5% of the Time

March 25, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly 5 percent of vehicles flagged as uninsured in Oklahoma were identified by error, according to a prosecutor who leads a new program that includes automatic license plate readers.

The Oklahoma District Attorneys Council sent warning letters to at least 663 people who were subsequently able to verify their insurance coverage.

Prosecutor Amanda Arnall Couch said most errors can be attributed to owners failing to correctly register their license plate after purchasing a vehicle, The Oklahoman reported.

Arnall Couch, who runs the Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion program, also known as UVED, noted some issues occur when a driver has coverage from an out-of-state carrier or commercial insurance, which isn’t mandated to be added to the database.

“It’s turning out to be a gigantic problem for us here,” said Arnall Couch, who examines thousands of photos each month with three retired law enforcement officers.

Beginning July 1, a new Oklahoma law will require a car seller to retain the license plate instead of giving it to the purchaser. In Oklahoma, the existing law requires the license plate to stay with the car if it’s sold.

The change could significantly reduce the number of false positives generated by the system, Arnall Couch said.

For the past five months, UVED employees have driven around the state in automobiles mounted with a camera. It automatically snaps photos of license plates, and then each image goes through a verification process to confirm a license plate is legible and actually on the road instead of being on a vehicle that is parked or on a tow truck.

Arnall Couch subsequently determines whether to send a letter to the car’s owner. She’s sent around 14,000 since the program launched. It doesn’t count as a citation or a ticket. Receiving a letter won’t place a person in the court system.

As long as they purchase insurance, violators can pay the council $174 to prevent further issues with prosecutors.

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