A bill in Arizona that would allow police to have uninsured vehicles towed and impounded was narrowly defeated, but it did manage to draw attention to the issue in that state and underscore the strict penalties that already exist for drivers who are on the road without coverage.
Insurance Research Council data from 2009 estimates that the segment of drivers in Arizona without insurance is about 12 percent, which is just under the country’s average of 13.8 percent.
If the proposed bill had passed, it would have given police officers the right to use an electronic database that confirms a driver’s auto coverage and would then give those officers the authority to have the vehicle towed an impounded if it was found that the policy was not renewed or if it was cancelled.
Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) was the author of the proposal, and he stated that the law that is currently in place gives drivers the right to leave a traffic stop within a vehicle that does not have insurance, even if the officer discovered that that car was uninsured.
The vote was a close one, being defeated by only 6-7. The hearing for the bill, SB 1165, by the House Appropriations Committee, heard critics speaking of their primary concern, that errors in insurance databases could cause innocent, insured drivers to see their vehicles towed away and impounded.
Kavanagh had informed other legislators that there was a 3 percent to 4 percent rate of error in the vehicle registration numbers in the database, which is typically the result of inputting typos when the VINs are entered. Those opposed to the concept were struggling with the thought that this bill would make it legal to victimize up to 200,000 vehicle owners, unintentionally, even though they were properly insured, but because their data was incorrectly added into the system.