El Paso city council revisits uninsured driver impound law
POSTED: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 9:39pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 3:41pm
EL PASO -- El Paso ranks second in the state when it comes to uninsured drivers and city leaders are wondering why so many people remain uninsured and citations are down.
During city council Tuesday afternoon, city representatives heard from Police Chief Greg Allen who said they don't have the resources to enforce every violator and still focus on keeping crime down.
"When potentially you're going to be a victim of a crime, we address that more than traffic concerns."
District 5 City Representative Dr. Michiel Noe said El Paso is a hotspot for uninsured drivers.
"About 15 percent, about 1 in 6 drivers don't have liability insurance," Dr. Noe said.
In 2009, council approved an ordinance allowing officers at their own discretion to impound vehicles of uninsured motorists.
In the first full year of the law in 2010, El Paso police issued 47,550 citations and impounded more than 13 hundred cars.
The next year citations went up to more than 48,000 but impounds dropped to 870.
This year citations and impounds are at a much slower pace than previous years. Only 22,591 citations were issued with only 252 impounds from January to May.
"In my opinion maybe we are not enforcing it as hard as we could be," said Dr. Noe. "That's why I brought this discussion up, what can we do to help the police department enforce this."
During council Dr. Noe suggested mandating officers to issue a citation or impound cars every single time a violation is committed.
The law as written does not allow that.
Chief allen said officers have to use discretion if it's going to make life harder on the person by impounder their car or issuing a citation that would prevent them from paying bills or driving to work.
"That's the reality of being a police officer, you don't do things in a robotic fashion simply because the law says so."