Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak joined with state lawmakers to unveil legislation on Tuesday that would crack down on uninsured drivers in the state.
Senate Bill 701 and House Bill 1792, authored by Oklahoma City Republicans Sen. David Holt and Rep. Mike Christian, would raise fines for uninsured drivers, allow law enforcement officials to seize car tags of uninsured drivers, and create a temporary state insurance plan that would cover vehicles with confiscated tags.
Drivers who have their car tags confiscated under the legislative proposals would receive a temporary sticker to place on their vehicle until they obtain insurance.
The legislation would also create administrative fees for uninsured drivers that would go to law enforcement and also to pay for the state temporary insurance plan.
Doak has stepped up the Insurance Department's efforts to combat uninsured drivers in the state because of the amount of money the problem is costing the state, he said.
The agency estimates there are up to 563,692 uninsured Oklahoma drivers who annually cost the state more than $8.8 million in unpaid insurance premium taxes.
“Those millions of dollars are just the beginning,” Doak said. “We know for a fact that it is making things more expensive in the state.”
Oklahoma's high percentage of uninsured drivers also means state policyholders pay higher insurance premiums, he said.
Victims of automobile accidents involving uninsured drivers in the state joined Doak at a news conference Tuesday to highlight the problem.
Mike Stone, president of the Woodward trucking company Beaver Express Services Inc., said an accident involving one of his employees driving a company rig two years ago cost his business more than $150,000.
His employee was injured in the accident, and is still costing the company through workers' compensation payments and higher insurance costs, he said.
“The person who had no insurance, involved in the wreck, only paid a $250 fine,” Stone said. “There needs to be some accountability for these drivers.”
Doak also announced the formation of the Coalition Against Uninsured Drivers, a group whose members include AAA, Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Safety Council and the Oklahoma Trucking Association.