7/16/2005Texas Cities Towing Uninsured Vehicles
A growing number of Texas cities are towing vehicles when owners cannot produce proof of insurance.
This week, the city of Mesquite became one of a growing number of Texas cities that tow vehicles if the owner cannot present proof of insurance to a police officer when stopped for another violation. The cities of Athens, Corsicana, DeSoto, Haltom City and Garland have already adopted a similar vehicle towing policy.
Mesquite police last year issued 9,471 citations worth $305 each for failure to produce insurance documentation. The new policy allows officers the option of impounding the vehicle if a motorist, insured or not, cannot produce the required paperwork. Before being towed, the police will search the vehicle without the consent of the owner. If the motorist says he is insured, police will attempt to contact the appropriate insurance company, but this may not help those stopped outside regular business hours.
This could leave several insured motorists stranded, facing a great deal of hassle and expense to recover their vehicle. In DeSoto, for example, motorists must go to the city jail to obtain a release form. Then they must find a way to take the form to J&N Wrecker service and pay all the required recovery charges. Texas does not regulate these fees, and some "cash only" lots will not accept credit cards or personal checks. The impound lots are not required to be open 24-hours a day, or open on holidays.
Motorists unable to pick up their vehicle immediately are assessed additional fees of $15 a day while the car remains on the lot, plus a $32 notification fee and $20 impound fee. A car left on the lot for sixty days will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the city.