PRYOR, OK —
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak is embarking on an education and problem-solving tour for the new state Temporary Motorist Liability law.
Doak, who took office Jan. 10, 2011 and is up for re-election this year, is visiting law enforcement and news entities across Oklahoma to discuss this 19-day old law.
“Oklahomans are tired of being hit by uninsured drivers. This is a long-standing issue and folks are starting to ask what we're going to do about it,” said Doak.
The law gives law enforcement officers the ability to seize the license plate of an uninsured driver. The officer then delivers the tag to the county sheriff's office. The uninsured driver will be issued a paper tag serving as proof of insurance for ten days. The vehicle owner may retrieve their license plate when they can provide proof they have purchased state minimum insurance coverage and have paid the $125 administrative fee as well as the traffic ticket.
“They think they can get away with it or it's a low priority,” said Doak when asked why he believed drivers do not purchase insurance. “We've even run across folks who didn't know it was state law.”
Doak said he did not believe the decision was financial.
“If you can afford your car and you can afford to put gas in it then not purchasing insurance is probably not financial,” Doak said, adding that the average cost of minimum coverage insurance is $750 per year.
“If you're going to drive, you're required to have auto insurance. If you don't have that, maybe you shouldn't be driving,” Doak said.
When asked if this law puts extra work on law enforcement, Doak said yes. But, he added, the revenue collected will offset the cost.
According to the law, the $125 fee collected will be divided between multiple entities: $25 will go to the Sheriff's Office, $70 will go to the law enforcement agency who issued the citation, $25 will go to the temporary insurance premium pool and $10 will go to the plan administrator.
“There may be future tweaking after we hear pros and cons. This law is only 19 days old,” said Doak. “I'm an advocate for taking bad laws off the books.”
Doak emphasized that driving without automobile insurance is considered insurance fraud and that being hit by an uninsured driver can be financially devastating.
“This is not targeting law-abiding citizens,” said Doak.