House Bill 1792, which targets uninsured motorists, becomes law today.

House Bill 1792, which targets uninsured motorists, becomes law today.

The new law gives law enforcement officers the authority to remove the tag from an uninsured vehicle and replace it with a temporary sticker that’s good for 10 days.

During that period, the driver would have minimum insurance coverage, but must pay a $125 administrative fee to fund the 10 days of coverage and then provide proof of insurance before the vehicle tag can be returned for the vehicle to be legal once again.

While it is a new tool for police, they’ll also be able to continue to impound vehicles, which is a common practice.

Tecumseh Police Chief Gary Crosby said Thursday he’s still not sure how the system will work and hasn’t yet received any of the stickers.

“There’s an awful lot of unanswered questions,” he added.

“I guess we’re going to have to equip cars with screwdrivers to remove tags,” Crosby said, anxious to find out more about what he’ll then do with those confiscated tags.

And while Crosby said no insurance is one of the more common citations they write, he said the threat of having a car impounded doesn’t always help, so he hopes the new law will make a difference.

Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz said while removing tags is an option, he expects his officers, in many cases, will continue to impound vehicle in cases of no insurance.

He too said they haven’t received much information about the new law but knows any confiscated tags are to be turned in to the sheriff's office.

The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association has been working on all these issues. Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said he and deputies will attend training on the new law Nov. 5, so for now, at least, his deputies won’t be removing tags and will continue to impound vehicles without insurance if needed.

Booth confirmed tags, whether removed by police in Asher, Tecumseh, Shawnee, or elsewhere in the county, would have to be turned in to his office through this new law.

During the 10-day hold, the drivers are covered under a pool insurance plan but then will face hefty fees to get the tag back, he said.

Whether it’s that or the cost of getting a car out of impound, Booth said all of extra costs could be avoided.

“Everybody could avoid this if they just get their insurance,” Booth said. “One way or another they have to get insurance or face consequences of it.”

Because legislators say that one in four drivers in Oklahoma is uninsured, it results in higher premiums for drivers who obey the law.

HB 1792 is based on similar measures in Louisiana and South Carolina. Before each state adopted the temporary sticker law, the two states had uninsured motorist rates of about 30 percent. Now, Louisiana has a rate of 12 to 13 percent, and South Carolina’s is just 8 to 9 percent.