The Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion program hit 10,000 participants Friday, a year after it began scanning license plates across Oklahoma.
The program started scanning plates Nov. 1, 2018, in metropolitan areas but has since reached nearly all of the state’s 77 counties. Using a mixture of camera-equipped vehicles, one trailer and several fixed locations, UVED scans license plates and checks them against the state’s daily insurance database for compliance.
Participants enroll in the program if they’re caught driving an uninsured vehicle and must pay a $174 fine and agree to maintain insurance for the next two years to keep the violation outside the court system.
UVED prosecutor Amanda Arnall Couch said the milestone makes Oklahomans safer on the roads.
“Since last November, we have been working to address the problem of uninsured driving in Oklahoma,” Arnall Couch said. “Having 10,000 fewer uninsured vehicles on our roadways benefits us all.”
UVED uses a daily “hot list” of vehicle registrations that can’t be matched with an insurance policy on file with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Scanners detect those plates, and notices are sent to the vehicle owners.
It’s hard to estimate the number of uninsured drivers because commercial insurance isn’t reported to the program, and Arnall Couch said a sizable number of Oklahomans lack personal insurance but their vehicles are covered under commercial policies.
Using the hot list as a baseline, as many as 200,000 vehicle registrations didn’t match up to insurance policies in the program’s database when the program began, Arnall Couch said.
Assuming some of those 200,000 in fact have commercial insurance, Arnall Couch said it’s likely the state has seen at least a 5% decrease in the number of uninsured drivers since the program began. Still, she said the program is at or exceeding expectations.
“Ten-thousand in the first year is definitely on pace with our expectations, maybe even a little better since we got a slow start,” Arnall Couch said.
UVED hasn’t forwarded any cases to prosecutors yet for two reasons. Arnall Couch said both the July 1 change to Oklahoma’s license plate law and a general grace period as the system launched this year persuaded her against sending cases to district attorneys this year.
But Arnall Couch said don’t expect it to last forever.
“All 27 district attorneys have been notified that prosecutions will begin soon,” Arnall Couch said. “I expect some charges will be filed during the first quarter of 2020.”