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Okla. Auto Insurance Changes in Effect

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LAWTON Okla_ If you've ever been in a wreck with someone who didn't have insurance, you'll be glad to hear about a new Oklahoma law that will dramatically increase their punishment.

The law went into effect Nov 1, but all the financial details are still being worked out. So, agencies won't begin enforcing them until January. We have a sneak peek at how much more expensive it will be.

As of now, driving without insurance gets you a $250 ticket, and maybe your car gets impounded. The new law will take your tag away, costing you $125 for a sheriff's department holding fee. Then, you will be issued a temporary insurance and tag and that will cost you a daily fee that is yet to be determined.

Temporary coverage only lasts ten days. If you don't pay it after that, your tag will be destroyed, and you will have to go through the tag process all over again.

Some states in the U.S. require uninsured motorist clauses covering you if you are hit by someone without insurance. In Oklahoma that is not the case. Actually, you have to sign saying you reject uninsured motorist coverage when you first get insurance, meaning it is often up to you to foot the bill if you're hit by one of the 560,000-plus uninsured drivers in Oklahoma.

New state law allows the seizure of tags and the issue of temporary insurance and temporary tags by law enforcement. Sergeant David Woods of Duncan Police Department believes the new law issuing temporary tags will cut down the number of uninsured drivers.

"I think it will be looked at as a scarlet letter throughout the community, and people aren't going to want to drive around that on their vehicles," Woods said.

He said many can't afford insurance, and others just don't care. It may be time to care. On top of the new law, the past law which allows cars to be impounded will remain in effect. That's a decision that will be up to officer discretion.

"A lot of officers will make that decision based on how long the insurance has been out, how long its been lapsed, and if the person who is being stopped is being truthful to the officer about other information we've been getting," Woods said. "All that plays into effect on our decisions."

Woods said uninsured drivers are a daily issue officers are dealing with.

"I was going over some of our stuff yesterday, and I was really blown away by how many citations we issue monthly for no or expired insurance," Wood said. "So yeah it's a problem."

The law is in effect now. However, agencies won't be putting in the changes until the beginning of the year as procedures are being established. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak will soon announce which company will provide that temporary insurance, as well as the daily rate for it.



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