Thursday, January 8, 2015

More Uninsured Drivers Likely to be Towed in Utah - Article

December 31, 2014
SALT LAKE CITY — Uninsured drivers on Utah roadways can expect to have their cars impounded on the spot under a new law taking effect Thursday. Utah police have had the option to pull over an uninsured driver and impound their car since 2008, but the new law will require it unless there's a safety concern. Despite Utah's relatively low rate of uninsured drivers, state Sen. Lyle Hillyard, a Logan Republican who sponsored the law, said it's "a worthwhile price for the greater good" of making sure uninsured drivers don't cause a financial burden to others if they get in an accident.

In 2012, Utah had the fourth-lowest rate of uninsured drivers in the country at 5.8 percent, according data from the Insurance Research Council. Hillyard estimates Utah's rate is now closer to 3 percent, but he said the law is still needed to further crack down on those driving without coverage. 

The law gives officers discretion so they're not seizing every car, he said. The law has exceptions if the officer is concerned that seizing the vehicle would be a safety concern to the driver or any occupants or keep the officer from addressing any other public safety matters.

"It gives them more of an incentive to impound the car, but it has a lot of protection in there," Hillyard said. "For example, if it's an unsafe position or if you've got a mom and some little kids there, those kinds of things, it would protect them from doing that." 

Law enforcement officers would have to check the person against a state database of uninsured drivers. If the driver insists they have insurance, the officer must make "a reasonable attempt" to verify if the person is covered, such as calling the insurance agency. 

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