LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - If you don't have insurance, the City of Lufkin can take your car. The Lufkin City Council approved the measure in July and now Lufkin police are set to enforce the new ordinance. The ordinance would allow vehicles of uninsured drivers to be towed away.
For the next week, police will be getting the word out about the new law. Monday afternoon, the news release below was distributed:
Chapter 601, Texas Transportation Code dictates that a person may not operate a motor vehicle in this state unless financial responsibility is established for that vehicle. In order to provide maximum protection to all individuals who drive within the city, Lufkin Police Department has directed its officers to ensure that all motor vehicles encountered during enforcement or investigative duties are operated in compliance with the financial responsibility requirements.
Beginning Monday, September 20, 2010, Lufkin Police Department (LPD) will enforce City of Lufkin Ordinance §4240, which authorizes the towing of vehicles operated without the required financial responsibility.
The term "financial responsibility" refers to evidence that motor vehicle liability coverage is established for a vehicle or driver as required by Texas Transportation Code. Evidence of financial responsibility includes;
- a copy of a motor vehicle liability insurance policy covering the vehicle,
- an insurance card issued by a liability insurer for the motor vehicle (known as "standard proof of motor vehicle liability insurance form"),
- an insurance binder form covering the vehicle,
- a insurance surety bond certificate covering the vehicle,
- a certificate of a deposit with the comptroller covering the vehicle,
- a certificate of a deposit with the appropriate county judge covering the vehicle, or
- a copy of a certificate of self-insurance covering the vehicle.
In the course of conducting a traffic stop or investigating a traffic crash, LPD officers will ask the driver of the vehicle to provide evidence of financial responsibility for the vehicle or driver. When a driver claims to have financial responsibility but fails to provide evidence of such, the officer will make reasonable efforts to verify financial responsibility for the vehicle or driver. Steps to verify financial responsibility may include, but are not limited to;
- consulting the TexasSure database (public information available at: www.texassure.com),
- contacting the driver's insurance agent,
- contacting the driver's insurance company,
- contacting a parent or guardian (if dealing with a minor), and
- contacting the lien holder.
If financial responsibility for the vehicle or driver is not in effect at the time of the traffic stop/crash, the officer will, unless mitigating circumstances exist, communicate to a supervisor the steps utilized to verify financial responsibility and seek supervisory approval to tow the vehicle.
If, in the officer's opinion, mitigating circumstances exist to not tow a vehicle operated without the required financial responsibility, the officer may seek supervisory approval to not tow the vehicle. Mitigating circumstances may include, but are not limited to;
- Time of day,
- Ability of driver to safely leave the location,
- Availability of other units to assist with the safe removal of occupants,
- Calls for service,
- Weather conditions,
- Lighting conditions, and
- Traffic volume, conditions, and speed.
An officer towing a vehicle under City of Lufkin Ordinance §4240 will make reasonable efforts to provide for the safety of the driver and any occupant(s). Examples of reasonable efforts include, but are not limited to;
- Transportation of the driver and any occupant(s) to a safe place,
- Assisting the driver and any occupant(s) in obtaining transportation to a safe place,
If there is no reasonable way to avoid placing the driver and occupant(s) in an unsafe situation, the officer will seek supervisory approval to not tow the vehicle.
Towing of a vehicle under City of Lufkin Ordinance §4240 does not prohibit an officer from issuing a citation to or taking other reasonable enforcement action against a person who operates a motor vehicle in violation of the financial responsibility requirements of Chapter 601, Texas Transportation Code.
An officer issuing a citation, arresting a driver, or towing a motor vehicle under Chapter 601, Texas Transportation Code/Lufkin, Texas Code of Ordinances § 4240, shall provide the driver a Municipal Court Insurance Violation information sheet. The information sheet explains to the driver that they have been issued a citation for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (No Insurance) and that they may save $865.00 by taking the following steps:
- Obtain Liability Insurance for the vehicle,
- Bring a copy of the insurance card or policy to Lufkin Municipal Court, and
- Pay a $5.00 fee to the Court (a Court representative will make contact with the insurance agency/agent to verify the insurance).
The information sheet also explains that once the Court has verified the insurance:
- The Court fine will be reduced to $192.00 (the Original fine is $312.00),
- The Court will grant a deferred disposition (the violation will not go on the driver's driving record), and
- The $750.00 State No-Insurance surcharge will be waived.
A vehicle towed under City of Lufkin Ordinance §4240 will be towed by the on-call wrecker from the normal Rotation Wrecker List and taken to the wrecker company storage facility.
Lufkin Police Department's goal is to ensure that all motor vehicles driven within the city meet the financial responsibility requirements of Chapter 601, Texas Transportation Code. Although enforcement of City of Lufkin Ordinance §4240 will begin Monday, September 20, 2010, the Department and its officers would prefer that all drivers obtain liability insurance before that date. A driver needing assistance obtaining liability insurance, you may find the following websites helpful:
Texas Department of Insurance – "Help for Texans Looking for Auto Insurance": www.tdi.state.tx.us/auto/auto.html
Texas Department of Insurance – "Automobile Insurance Made Easy": www.tdi.state.tx.us/pubs/consumer/cb020.html
Texas Department of Insurance and Office of Public Insurance Counsel – "Check and compare auto insurance rates": www.HelpInsure.com