Taking Away Tags? Proposed Changes for Uninsured Drivers

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Oklahoma's Insurance Commissioner announced proposed legislation, Senate Bill 701, Tuesday. It would change the way law enforcement handles uninsured drivers. It aims to increase the number of insured drivers on the road.

"In Louisiana, they have new legislation, innovative legislation that enabled them to take the tag off the vehicle as another option for law enforcement," said Insurance Commissioner John Doak. He wants to implement something similar in Oklahoma.

Currently, drivers caught driving without insurance face fines or having their cars impounded. An estimated one in four drivers in Oklahoma are uninsured.

"Unfortunately, right now, the fine for driving uninsured is less than the cost of insurance," said Doak. "But I'm working with the Legislature to try and change that."

AAA explained the proposed legislation would give law enforcement the power to remove the uninsured driver's tag and place a sticker where it was. The driver would then have five days to get insured to get their tags back.

A release from the Insurance Commission added the legislation includes an administrative fee that provides temporary insurance coverage for cars with the stickers.

"The hope is that we get more people obtaining insurance as the law requires," said AAA spokesperson Danial Karnes.

Channel 8 spoke with a woman who is now facing $7,800 in car repair fees after she said she was in an accident with an uninsured driver. She said she supports legislators' push to do something about it.

"I think that's probably a great idea. I mean, in my situation, the guy was just ticketed and sent about his way," said Jessica Crow.

However, the Sheriff's Department said it has concerns about the proposed changes. Major Shannon Clarke said it would mean an influx in inventory. Officers would have to travel back to the station more frequently to drop off tags. Drivers wanting to pick up their tags would likely only have a small window of time to do so. Also, he wondered what might happen if drivers try to sue officers for allegedly damaging vehicles removing the tags. He said it would take more time than just impounding cars and would increase officer discretion.

According to a draft of the bill, the proposed legislation could take effect November 1, 2013 if approved.

AAA said more insured drivers on the road could mean better insurance premiums for everyone.

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