The police department got the green light from City Council on Tuesday to step up enforcement against uninsured drivers.This seems like a straight-up revenue generation scheme. Towing uninsured vehicles is one thing, but I see little excuse for the rapid turnaround on auctioning them off - much less maximizing fines and tow charges - except bleeding drivers for money during lean budget times. A similar scheme in Dallas (though with a much less aggressive auctioning schedule) has failed to reduce the rate of uninsured drivers in that city.
The council approved $180,000 from the city's general fund to help increase enforcement. Police Chief Troy Riggs said the department's plans call for hiring two more impound control officers, buying a new wrecker and doubling the number of auto auctions to 12 a year. Adding six auctions is expected to generate $510,000 a year, he said.
Police also will start giving offenders the maximum penalty: a citation with a fine between $175 and $350 for the first offense, plus an average cost of $280 to get the vehicle out of impound.
If violators don't pay up, their cars can be sold in as few as 30 days, officials said.
Even more worrisome, the police chief plans "to set up insurance checkpoints on designated nights and tow uninsured vehicles." That seems like overkill to me, and perhaps just a cheap excuse to get around the ban on DWI checkpoints.
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