Colorado lawmakers voted 8-5 to have the Department of Revenue take control of the state’s troubled insured motorist database system, saying the state can do a better job than a private contractor.
Members of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee said the system, which tracks about 4.4 million cars and 2.3 million drivers, was originally designed to notify authorities if a motorist failed to buy automobile insurance.
Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo, said the current system will only tell authorities that the status of a motorist who does not have insurance is “unknown.” She said police didn’t trust the records and have been wary of enforcing laws that required them to seize driver’s licenses.
Insurance companies that were ordered to report uninsured motorists to the database said the system falsely reported that motorists who lived out of state or worked in the military had no insurance.
Philip Casey, spokesman for Explorer Information Systems of Red Wing, Minn., which runs the program, said his company was able to match 98 percent of the records accurately and could modify the system to notify authorities.
Butcher said the state pays $1.6 million a year for the system, charging motorists 50 cents for registering vehicles. She said the state could save $1 million a year by taking over the database because the state already owns the computer codes.
Casey said it takes a dozen employees to run the program and questioned the savings.
The state launched the program in 1999 following complaints that many motorists were uninsured, driving up the costs for drivers who followed the law. Thousands of motorists complained that the system falsely accused them of not having insurance, and they had no way to correct the errors.
State officials said about 12 percent of motorists still do not have insurance. They urged that the program be continued, at least until next year.
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