Bill description: HB 179 would have the Transportation Department revoke a vehicle registration if they determine a vehicle owner does not have individual insurance coverage.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Under current law, vehicle owners must have insurance on their vehicles before traveling on public roads or highways. To meet insurance requirements, a vehicle owner must either have a $25,000/$50,000/$15,000 insurance policy (which would cover up to $25,000 in personal injury liability, $50,000 in group injury liability and $15,000 in property liability), an indemnity bond which would cover the same amounts, or a certificate of self-insurance.
HB 179 would have the Idaho Transportation Department “establish a program to match information from the online insurance verification system with motor vehicle registrations to determine whether owners of motor vehicles have established financial responsibility.”
This raises the concern that many drivers will be misidentified as uninsured and then have their vehicle registration revoked. Not all insurance information is reported to the Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS), which the department would use to determine coverage. The Transportation Department specifically states: “OIVS only applies to vehicles covered by personal automobile liability insurance policies; therefore, vehicle insurance cannot be verified through OIVS in every situation.” This could lead to many false positives, as vehicle owners who have an indemnity bond would be mislabeled as uninsured, as could any vehicle owners whose insurance policies are missed by the system. In Utah, an investigation found that a similar program was accurate only 96.7 percent of the time, leading to many citations and tens of thousands of drivers who were mislabeled. A similar level of accuracy in Idaho would lead to almost 50,000 vehicles being misidentified (1,489,139 registered vehicles X 96.7 percent).
Additionally, Idaho does not have a serious problem with uninsured drivers when compared to other states. Idaho ranks 39th in the number of uninsured drivers (with 50th being the best).The national average for uninsured drivers was 13%, using 2015 data, while Idaho was at 8.2%
Update: This analysis was updated on 3/12 to reflect the amendments made on 3/7