Oklahoma, Florida outlaw ‘first responders’ fee

| 6/23/2009

A new law in Oklahoma puts a stop to communities in the state charging a fee when police and fire personnel respond to vehicle accidents. The ban on “accident taxes” took effect with Gov. Brad Henry’s signature.

In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist has also signed a similar rule.

Previously HB2013, the new Oklahoma law prohibits levying fees for the response or investigation of vehicle accidents by law enforcement.

Oklahoma was the seventh state to prohibit accident-response fees. Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Tennessee already have forbidden the fees. Since the Sooner State adopted their ban, Florida has also outlawed the practice.

With several cash-strapped communities in the state having enacted “crash taxes,” the Florida law prohibits counties and cities from charging a fee when police and fire personnel respond to vehicle accidents.

Effective July 1, the new Florida law – S2282 – prohibits local governments from applying the accident-response fee on drivers, owners of vehicles or insurance providers for emergency personnel responding to a vehicle accident. The ban does not affect ambulance services.

Advocates for the accident-response fees say they are needed to stretch already tight budgets. Others say taxpayers shouldn’t be billed for accidents they didn’t cause.

Opponents say the fees, which can total several hundred dollars depending on which personnel respond and how long they are present, are a form of double taxation.

“People pay for police and fire services in their property taxes or in utility fees, or other methods. To charge someone to have police and fire respond to your car accident is just wrong. It’s offensive,” William Stander, assistant vice president of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told Land Line Now.

Stander pointed out that the taxes aren’t covered under insurance policies.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.