Dallas police this spring will begin impounding vehicles of uninsured drivers involved in accidents, reports the Houston Chronicle. “Perhaps people in Dallas now who don’t have car insurance will think twice before they get into their car to drive,” said Mayor Laura Miller. The measure, which was strongly supported in wealthier neighborhoods, gained unanimous approval from the City Council after black and Hispanic members won assurances that the city would monitor whether the policy targets minorities. “This is a divisive, wedge issue,” said Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill, who is black and who forced a compromise that will require the city to renew the program after two years.
Council member Leo Chaney said the people who “really and truly will be impacted by this” are the working poor. “I question the effectiveness of it,” he said. “I don’t know that this ordinance will push our citizens into going and getting insurance.” About 30 percent of the 57,400 drivers involved in accidents each year in Dallas. Police expect to impound about 30 vehicles a day. Texas requires proof of liability insurance to register a vehicle. Several council members recalled during debate of the measure how they or their family members had been in wrecks with uninsured drivers. Dallas officials said San Antonio, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, and Philadelphia impound vehicles involved in accidents, as well as those stopped for traffic violations. A Seattle Post-Intelligencer review of an impoundment program in Seattle, where cars of both uninsured and unlicensed drivers have been towed since 1999, found that about 40 percent of those whose cars were seized in the first year of the program were black. Blacks make up 10 percent of that city’s population.