The Sooner State requires that all motorists remain financially responsible while operating motor vehicles, meaning that vehicle owners must purchase car insurance that meets certain minimum standards or deposit a sum with the state to be used in the event of an accident.
Minimum Level of Protection
In 2005 the state government signed legislation into law requiring that all Oklahoma auto insurance policies in the state provide protection for at least up to the following dollar amounts:
- $25,000 for bodily injury liability per person per accident
- $50,000 total for bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 for property damage liability per accident
If motorists elect to satisfy the financial responsibility law by depositing funds with the state, they must hand over $75,000.
Online Verification System
An online database matching Oklahoma drivers to their protection plans went live in 2009. The state legislature had initiated the building of the database around 2005 in an effort to combat the high rate of uninsured motorists.
The database makes it more difficult for vehicle owners to register uninsured vehicles, since DMV officials verify coverage through the database at the time of registration. Since November 2010, law enforcement officers are actually required access the database remotely to verify whether a driver pulled over for a moving violation has a proper insurance policy in place.
Penalties for Driving Uninsured
Despite the fact that Oklahomans are required to show proof of insurance when getting a license and registering a vehicle, it has been estimated that 1 in 4 drivers in the state are on the road without a policy. These drivers face a fine and other repercussions if they are cited for being financially irresponsible.
When caught uninsured, a driver will be fined $250 and have his or her license suspended until he or she has paid the fine and can show proof of coverage. And as of November 2010, law enforcement officers in the state who have issued a citation for driving uninsured are permitted to seize and tow the vehicle.
No Pay, No Play
In 2011, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a so-called "no pay, no play" law set to take effect that November limiting the recovery rights of motorists who are involved in serious accidents while uninsured.
Under the new law, motorists who are involved in an accident while having no coverage cannot successfully collect compensation for pain-and-suffering damages following a crash, even if the accident was not their fault. These individuals can still recover money from the other parties for their medical and auto-repair bills.
The law was passed with the intention of dissuading residents from getting behind the wheel without first purchasing insurance.