The Oklahoma House has approved a bill that would allow law
enforcement officials in the state to instantly determine whether a vehicle has
The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Wright, R-Broken Arrow,
would require insurance polices to include the vehicle identification number of
the vehicle or vehicles covered by a policy for use in a state database.
According to news sources, Wright said the database would
provide “a real-time indicator” for law enforcement officials to check
insurance status every time a vehicle is pulled over.
Wright said the bill could lead to a dramatic reduction in
the number of uninsured motorists traveling Oklahoma roads, which some
officials think may account for three out of every 10 vehicles on the road.
Although Oklahoma drivers must offer proof of insurance at
the time of registration, many cancel that coverage shortly after obtaining
insurance. The bill – HB1351 – directs the state Department of Public Safety to
establish a secure Web site maintaining a directory of vehicle identification
numbers that will be accessible to insurance carriers and law enforcement for
verification of coverage.
Supporters point to a similar law in place in Utah since 1995,
which has been credited with dropping the rate of uninsured motorists from 23
percent to 9 percent in the state.
In Oklahoma, the database would cost more than $50,000 to
get up and running, but Wright hopes it would end up saving Oklahomans on their
The measure has been forwarded to the Senate for
Another vehicle insurance bill recently passed from a House
panel and has been forwarded to the full House.
Sponsored by Rep. Ron Peterson, R-Broken Arrow, uninsured
motorists would be limited in how much they can collect after being involved in
an auto accident.
HB1541 states that, if an uninsured motorist were involved
in an accident, recovery would be limited to medical recovery damages, lost
wages and property damages. No awards would be allowed for non-economic
damages, known as “suffering.”
In a released statement, Peterson explained the measure is
intended to prevent uninsured motorists from profiting from their criminal
“Currently, even though you have broken the law by not
carrying auto insurance, you get to fully recover against somebody else that
may be at fault in that accident,” said Peterson.
“Yet, if the uninsured is at fault, the recovery of the
other party is limited because there is no insurance coverage. Typically, a lot
of people who don’t have insurance don’t have any other assets to pay for those
damages to the injured party.”
To Peterson, the bill is a fairness issue: “It enforces the
golden rule in a small way, that you should provide for others as you would
provide for yourself.”