Concerns of law-abiding drivers should carry more weight than lawbreaking uninsured motorists

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: January 30, 2013

Last year, state Rep. Steve Martin, R-Bartlesville, submitted a bill similar to Christian's legislation. Martin's bill passed the House, was killed in the Senate, then revived upon reconsideration, and ultimately died in a conference committee. One opponent suggested Martin's bill was designed mostly to boost government revenue and enrich vendors, linking it to an unrelated proposal to install cameras on state highways and issue tickets without a traffic stop. There were enough red herrings in that argument to feed most of Oklahoma City's homeless.

For one thing, Martin's bill focused on actual police making actual traffic stops. There were no “spy cams” or tickets issued by remote computer programs. As for the idea vendors might make a profit, so what? Should we outlaw the use of computers at police stations because Dell's bottom line might benefit?

A more serious argument raised by some opponents was that the legislation violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. No doubt someone will make that argument in court if the bills by Vaughan and Christian become law, but we suspect both will pass muster.

Under the two bills, citizens wouldn't be pulled over or face the loss of their vehicle unless they're breaking the law by driving without auto insurance. Oklahomans with coverage would have nothing to fear except the prospect of lower insurance rates.

No single law will eliminate all uninsured driving. But it would help if Oklahoma legislators focused more on advancing policies that protect law-abiding drivers than on preserving the “rights” of lawbreaking uninsured motorists.

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