Thursday, October 14, 2010

Corpus Christi will begin insurance checkpoints, auction off uninsured vehicles

It sounds like a Soviet-era cliche - "Show me your papers, comrade, or we'll seize your property" - but Corpus Christi will begin setting up "insurance checkpoints" aimed at towing and ultimately auctioning off vehicles of the one in four divers in the city who don't carry auto insurance, reports the Caller-Times:
The police department got the green light from City Council on Tuesday to step up enforcement against uninsured drivers.

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.
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.

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.

See related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that many years ago, they used to just take your license plates. Obviously, that didn't work. If you don't take their cars, how else are you going to stop uninsured drivers from putting responsible drivers at economic risk, and from running over people? (one ran over me in 1985, totaled my car, and put me in the hospital)

And, I don't understand how you could make "pay at the pump" insurance work fairly. I don't think you can. As a responsible driver, I don't want to pay the same rate as some irresponsible bozo with a bad driving record. I don't want to reward irresponsible behavior by letting them pay the same insurance rates as me, or letting them continue to drive. Spreading misery equally isn't going to work here.

Besides, if you take their car to get them off the road, you will be promoting the use of public transportation and saving the environment.

My brother once had an out-of-control teenager, who had his license suspended for 6 months. Believe me, he found ways to get from point A to point B (including work) that didn't involve him driving.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, if you just seize poor folks cars and fine them they will straighten right up, go and buy a new car and properly insure it! Plus the county will be able to sell poor folks cars to used car dealers who will then sell them BACK to poor people. This is a GENIUS plan! Everyone makes money and the poor people get new, insured cars!

Prison Doc said...

What a patently stupid idea.

People without licenses drive without licenses. People without insurance drive without insurance. People with no car drive someone else's car.

As my old mother used to say, "Locks only stop honest people".

It's all just revenue generation for the state.

If this sort of nonsense doesn't change I will have to become a Libertarian yet.

Chris H said...

Is this an a plan to stop uninsured drivers or a backdoor AZ SB1070?

1) Most illegal immigrants don't have a drivers license.
2) Can't get insurance in Texas without a valid, current drivers license.

Corpus won't have to deal with the question on whether they're racially profiling until many years down the road.

Anonymous said...

It's their city, let them do what they want. If you don't live there, be happy, if you do live there and don't like it get involved, or get moving! This is still a free country! (for the most part)

Don said...

What about the lienholders? How does the city get a clear title to sell them?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone every read the codes anymore. The city does not have the statutory authority to do it.

Second and subsequent offenses are not class c misdemeanors either.

Retired LE

SUBCHAPTER I. FAILURE TO MAINTAIN EVIDENCE OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY; IMPOUNDMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLESec. 601.261. IMPOUNDMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLE. On a second or subsequent conviction for an offense under Section 601.191, the court shall order the sheriff of the county in which the court has jurisdiction to impound the motor vehicle operated by the defendant at the time of the offense if the defendant:(1) was an owner of the motor vehicle at the time of the offense; and(2) is an owner on the date of that conviction.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 601.262. DURATION OF IMPOUNDMENT. (a) The duration of an impoundment under Section 601.261 is 180 days.(b) The court may not order the release of the vehicle unless the defendant applies to the court for the vehicle's release and provides evidence of financial responsibility that complies with Section 601.053 and this section.(c) The evidence of financial responsibility must cover the two-year period immediately following the date the defendant applies for release of the impounded vehicle. The court, by order, shall permit a defendant to provide evidence of insurability in increments of a period of not less than six months.(d) If an insurance binder is offered as evidence of financial responsibility under this section, the binder must confirm to the court's satisfaction that the defendant is in compliance with this chapter for the period required by Subsection (c).
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.Amended by: Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 313, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.

Sec. 601.263. COST FOR IMPOUNDMENT. The court shall impose against the defendant a cost of $15 a day for each day of impoundment of the defendant's vehicle.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Matthew Venhaus said...

Have these insurance/license checkpoints survived a constitutional challenge? We have them in El Paso, and I always wonder how I should respond when stopped.

Anonymous said...

With DPS having an isurance data base of who has insurance. You don't need a check point to see if someone has it, only run the tags.


Anonymous said...

This is flagrant revenue generation. And 2:10 is correct imo, the city lacks the power to implement this execrable scheme. Clearly they're betting that people who can't afford insurance also can't afford to take them to court. Some lawyer with a conscience (I know, I know, it's about as likely as finding an honest politician) needs to start going to these little (and not so little, like Round fact, the whole of wilco) gestapo towns and taking them to task. Hell, I'd be happy to throw some money into the kitty for that kind of mess.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:48, under pay at the pump you'd pay less than you pay now because EVERYBODY - including the one in four drivers currently uninsured - would all be in the pool. You say "As a responsible driver, I don't want to pay the same rate as some irresponsible bozo with a bad driving record." But right now the irresponsible Bozo pays nothing and you pay more because so many are uninsured. Pay at the pump would solve that inequity, and without disrupting the labor markets the way seizing vehicles from one in four drivers would do.

The legal questions asked in this string are all beyond my knowledge base, but raise some interesting points.

Anonymous said...

Something has to be done about the large number of uninsured drivers in this State. Yes, that does include the large number of illegal immigrants without insurance, which is a topic most politicians and citizens alike want to avoid.

I and everyone in my family has always had full coverage, getting the insurance companies to pay during an accident is like trying to get oil from a water well. This is personel experience. The large number of uninsured motorist contribute to this problem, which in turn means we the insured pay more.

I think the "pay at the pump" insurance is an answer for US citizens or permenant resident aliens to get the coverage that we the insured need the uninsured to get. I think it will benefit the currently insured as well as the uninsured.

However, I do not see "pay at the pump" addressing the illegal immiagrant without insurance. They are in this country illegaly and have no motivation to follow any of the laws. They will only flee back to Mexico when a car accident occurs. Only to return with a fake ID or SSN in another name. The only solution is to take their uninsured vehicles off the roads.

As the illegal immigrant population continues to increase I see no alternative other than insurance check points to address this growing "politacally incorrect" problem within our Country.

Brian said...

I'd like to hear more details on how pay-at-the-pump would work? Will out-of-state drivers be covered while driving in Texas? (Would they have to prove that they bought gas in Texas?) Will I be covered when I drive in other states?

What about drivers in Texarkana? If I live in Texas but buy all of my gas in Arkansas, am I covered by the pay-at-the-pump insurance or not? What if I live in Arkansas but buy all my gas in Texas?

I generally like the idea, but the devil is in the details...

Anonymous said...

wow. Wouldn't this be similar to stealing?

Kid jumps in someone's car when they leave the keys in it. Auto theft.

Government jumps in someone's car because the keys are in it. Sound Governmental policy...