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Dallas Uninsured Motorist Crackdown

Claim:   Uninsured Dallas motorists (80+% of whom are illegal immigrants) are having their cars towed, which has resulted in a 47% reduction of vehicle accidents.

MIXTURE:

TRUE: Dallas police may impound vehicles whose drivers fail to provide proof of insurance.
 
FALSE: Dallas impound lots were full nine days after this crackdown began.
 
FALSE: More than 80% of those impounded cars were driven by illegal immigrants.
 
FALSE: Accident rates have gone down 47% since implementation of this ordinance.

Examples:

[Collected via e-mail, August 2012]

You just HAVE to love Texas!!

Recently, the City of Dallas, Texas, passed an ordinance stating that if a driver is pulled over by law enforcement and is not able to provide proof of insurance, the car is towed.

To retrieve the car after being impounded, they must show proof of insurance to have the car released.

This has made it easy for the City of Dallas to remove uninsured cars.

Shortly after the "No Insurance" ordinance was passed, the Dallas lots began to fill up and were full after only nine days. 80 + % of the impounded cars were driven by illegals.

Not only must they provide proof of insurance to have their car released, they have to pay for the cost of the tow, a $350 fine, and $20 for every day their car is kept in the lot.

Accident rates have gone down 47% and... Dallas' solution gets uninsured drivers off the road WITHOUT making them show proof of nationality.

Wonder how the ACLU or the Justice Department will get around this one?

Just brings tears to my eyes. GO Dallas!!!!!

Sheriff Joe??? How about this one?
 

[Collected via e-mail, March 2011]

Dallas If they came up with a law like this in Al, Ga, Fl., there wouldn't be but a few cars on the road, and not neccesarily because of illegals.... except for about 30 days when the license renewal is due.......

Recently, the City of Dallas, Texas, passed an ordinance stating that if a driver is pulled over by law enforcement and is not able to provide proof of insurance, their car is towed.

To retrieve their car after being impounded, they must show proof of insurance to have their car released. This has made it easy for the City of Dallas to remove uninsured cars that are typically driven mostly by illegals.

Shortly after the "No Insurance" ordinance was passed, the Dallas impound lots began to fill up and were full after only nine days. Most of the impounded cars were driven by illegals.

Not only must they provide proof of insurance to have their car released, they have to pay for the cost of the tow, a $350 fine, and $20 for every day their car is kept in the lot.

Dallas' solution gets uninsured drivers off the road WITHOUT making them show proof of nationality. Wonder how the ACLU or the Justice Department will get around this one.

Brings a tear to my eye.

GO Texas!
 

Origins:   According to the Texas Department of Insurance, as of August 2012, more than one in four vehicles in Dallas County are uninsured, the highest percentage in any of the state's large urban counties. Since 2009, Dallas has been trying to reduce the number of uninsured drivers on its roads by passing and enforcing an ordinance which authorizes police officers to
impound any vehicle stopped for a traffic violation if the driver cannot furnish proof of insurance.

E-mails on this subject like the ones quoted above began circulating in October 2010. While they reflect some truths about the treatment of uninsured motorists in that city, they also boldly state some outright falsehoods.

Enforcement of the revised Sec 28-4 (Authority to Remove Vehicles) of the Dallas City Code took effect on 1 January 2009. While police officers may use their discretion in applying the law (as some did in January 2009 when the weather in that city was particularly bad), the law authorizes the impoundment of uninsured vehicles and the imposition of fines upon their drivers (up to $350 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for the second offense, with those guilty of multiple offenses who take no action becoming subject to arrest).

The relevant portions of that city's Ordinance 27189 regarding impoundment of uninsured vehicles states:
Sec 28-4 Authority to Remove Vehicles; Redemption; Fees

(a) A police officer is authorized to remove or cause the removal of a vehicle or other property of any description from a street to a place designated by the chief of police when:

(12) The vehicle is stopped by a police officer for an alleged violation of a city or state traffic law or any other law applicable to the operation of a vehicle on the roadway and the vehicle's owner fails to show evidence of financial responsibility as required under Chapter 601 of the Texas Transportation Code, as amended.
(In the above passage, "financial responsibility" equates to "proof of insurance.")

The costs levied against those whose vehicles were so impounded are specified as follows:
(b) A vehicle removed and towed under this section must be kept at the place designated by the chief of police until application for redemption is made by the owner or the owner's authorized agent, who will be entitled to the possession of the vehicle upon payment of costs of towing, notification, impoundment, and storage. The chief of police shall charge fees for storage of vehicles at city pound locations in accordance with the following regulations:

(6) An impoundment fee of $20, in addition to applicable towage, notification, and storage fees, will be charged for a vehicle that has been removed and towed to a city pound location.

(7) A notification fee of $50, in addition to applicable towage, impoundment, and storage fees, will be charged for a vehicle that has been removed and towed to a city pound location.
Dallas also uses TexasSure, the state's vehicle insurance verification system, which maintains a database containing the names of all insured drivers and the names of their insurers, their license plate registration information, and vehicle identification numbers (VIN). Owners of uninsured vehicles revealed by that database are sent e-mails and letters requiring them to insure their cars.

As for the claims made in the "Way to Go, Texas!" (aka "You Just Have to Love Texas!") e-mails, although Dallas police did have 256 uninsured vehicles towed during the first nine days of the statute's enforcement, that city's impound lots were not full after only nine days. Scott Walton, spokesman for the Dallas Police Department, said that "It never reached even close to capacity after this [law] was implemented."

As for the claim that "80+ % of the impounded cars were driven by illegals," no one is checking on the immigration status of the drivers or owners of impounded cars, so that number was fabricated by whoever penned the e-mail. Texas residents do not have to show they are legally in the country before purchasing vehicle insurance or reclaiming vehicles from city impound lots, and Dallas police don't usually ask motorists they stop for traffic violations to provide proof of legal residency. As spokesman Scott Walton also stated, "We do not check citizenship or the status of immigration when people come to claim their car. I don't know where that (percentage) came from."

Even though proof of insurance must be furnished to get a license renewal or safety inspection, enforcement of the law has been difficult. Millions of motorists skirt the requirement by using counterfeit proof-of-insurance cards or obtaining a month's coverage of insurance to get an ID card, only to cancel the policy once they get their licenses renewed.

As for the e-mail's claim that "Accident rates have gone down 47%" since the implementation of the impound ordinance, according to the Texas Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics, the number of automobile accidents in Dallas went up in 2009, not down (36,932 in 2009, the first year of the impoundment of vehicles ordinance, compared to 35,388 in 2008) and have remained relatively steady since then (35,793 in 2010 and 35,273 in 2011).

Last updated:   21 August 2012

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Sources:

    Glueck, Katie.   "Linchpin of Chain Email's Claim Is Figure That Can't Be Verified."
    Austin American-Statesman. nbsp; 12 March 2012   (p. B1).

    Levinthal, Dave.   "On First Days of New Law, Dallas Drops Hammer on Uninsured Drivers."
    Dallas City Hall Blog. nbsp; 3 January 2009.

    Stutz, Terrence.   26 Percent of Vehicles in Dallas County Uninsured, State Analysis Shows."
    The Dallas Morning News. nbsp; 9 December 2009.

    Thompson, Steve.   "Officer Decides Not to Tow Because Uninsured Driver Is Headed to Work."
    The Dallas Morning News. nbsp; 14 July 2009.

    Thompson, Steve.   "Some Uninsured Motorists Escape Towing Due to Dallas Weather."
    The Dallas Morning News. nbsp; 27 January 2009.

    Business Insurance.   "Texas Pulls Uninsured Motorists Off the Roads."
    19 January 2009   (p. 23).

    San Antonio Express-News.   "Insured Stats Showing Big Improvement."
    16 July 2012   (p. A15).