Council Approves Towing Cars When Driver Cannot Show Proof of Insurance

Today, Councilmember Rasansky moved and I seconded a motion to tow cars of uninsured drivers. As of January 1, 2009, if the police pull over a driver and that driver cannot provide proof of insurance, their car will be towed to the city impound lot. (When there are extenuating circumstances, the police may use their discretion not to tow.) To get the car back, the driver will have to pay a fee and show proof of insurance.

I fully support this proposal. I disagree with the argument that towing uninsured cars will disproportionately hurt the poor. On the contrary, I think this will most benefit poor, law-abiding citizens who spend their hard-earned money to ensure they’ve got insurance. An example: a single mother who works two jobs is the victim of an accident. She has insurance. She pays $66 every month to comply with Texas state law that requires every driver in the state to carry proof of financial responsibility (insurance). But she can’t afford to carry the more expensive, “uninsured motorist insurance” that would protect her if she’s hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance. If she’s hit by an uninsured driver, she has to pay out of her own pocket for any hospital care she needs as a result of her injuries, any physical rehabilitation she may require, any work time she may lose, any repair her car may need. How is that fair?

Law-abiding drivers have to pay more for their car insurance to make up for those drivers who refuse to obey the law. How is that fair?

Car insurance is part of the cost of owning a car. I checked with four insurance companies. Basic liability insurance is as little as $66 a month. That’s a tank of gas, a cellphone bill, a couple of dinners out. If someone can’t afford insurance, they shouldn’t drive. They will have to use public transit, walk, or carpool.