Two days later: Chron covers tow/impound proposal
Two days after KTRH-740 talker Chris Baker spent a fair amount of time on City Hall rumblings about adopting tow/impound legislation for vehicles that aren't properly insured and get into wrecks, the Chronicle (which has several reporters who cover matters at City Hall) finally managed a news story.
Councilmember Michael Berry is pushing the ordinance:
Richmond and Rosenberg have joined a growing list of Texas cities that have authorized police to tow the vehicles of uninsured motorists after accidents and traffic stops.
And a Houston councilman says the city could consider a similar measure as early as next week.
Officials said cities are adopting the towing policy to put some teeth [Editor's note: Wow, that sounds a lot like a headline here!] into the enforcement of a law that for years has been ignored by millions of vehicle owners.
"When someone drives without insurance they pass the cost and the risk onto the rest of us. And that is why auto insurance is skyrocketing. And number two, it is the state law, you have to have insurance," said Houston City Councilman Michael Berry, who wants Houston to start towing and impounding vehicles driven by the uninsured.
The financial burden that uninsured drivers cause for those who obey the law is the main reason Berry wants Houston to start the program.
"The cost of operating a vehicle is more than just having four tires and steering wheel. If you cannot afford to have insurance on your car to protect other drivers, then you cannot afford to be on the road," he said.
He said an ordinance is being drafted and hopes to have it ready by Tuesday. "I think we can get it passed. It is going to take some work and convincing," he said.
While other city councils have simply approved the towing program as a matter of policy, Berry said Houston will enact an ordinance.
"I can't require the police chief to issue a police policy, but I can pass an ordinance that makes it city law," he said.
Mayor White, who controls the Council agenda, apparently is not yet as enthusiastic about the program as Councilmember Berry:
Frank Michel, spokesman for Mayor Bill White, said he knew of no plans to implement a program in Houston but said White is open to suggestions.
Translation: Mayor White doesn't oppose the proposal in principle, but he'll let his press shop gauge public sentiment before he commits himself one way or the other.
Incidentally, Dallas approved its ordinance with a two-year sunset provision. On policies such as this one and SAFEclear, sunset provisions would be an excellent idea.