Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 30, 2013

Heavy price coming for some drivers

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Motorists driving without insurance for their vehicle could be in for a big surprise and heavy cost after the first of the year as law enforcement is gearing up to take their license plates.

That means officers will literally take the tags right off vehicles if those drivers don’t have their insurance up to date.

It’s all part of a new law stemming from House Bill 1792 intended to start dropping the number of uninsured drivers out there on the road.

“Here’s something with teeth for people we come in contact with who don’t have insurance,” said Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.

“We will actually be taking tags off vehicles forcing that motorist to go get insurance,” Rhodes said. “When you think about loopholes there’s really not one with this.

“We don’t want this to be a surprise to anyone.”

The sheriff is referring to Jan. 1. That’s when his deputies and officers with any law enforcement agency will start seizing the plates right off the vehicles that don’t have insurance.

From there drivers will not only have to get vehicle insurance but also pay a whole variety of fines and fees if they want to get those tags back.

“There will be a laundry list of fees to get their tag back,” Rhodes said.

The legislation, signed into law in April, not only allows law enforcement to seize plates from uninsured vehicles but also provides insurance coverage for the vehicle for up to 10 working days.

Once ticketed, the offender must pay for the cost of the temporary insurance, which is called the Oklahoma Temporary Motorist Liability Policy.

Offenders will be charged a temporary insurance rate of $10 per 24-hour period, with a minimum rate of $50, from the time a citation is issued.

Along with other required fees and fines, drivers must also purchase their own mandatory insurance before they can reclaim the tag.

As for seized plates, they will be held at the sheriff’s office in Pauls Valley until the drivers have met all the requirements needed to get them back.

“We’ll start receiving any license plates that are seized as the result of this new law,” the sheriff said.

“The job of the sheriff’s office is to maintain that tag and then release it back to the hopefully insured motorists,” he said.

“We’ll be physically holding the tag but also collecting fees associated with the new law.”

Another big surprise could come if drivers don’t pay the fines or get insurance needed for their vehicle.

If motorists aren’t able to prove they’ve gotten insurance their seized plates will be destroyed after a 90-day period.