Rethink proof of insurance policy

Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Editor,

I recently saw your story concerning carrying car insurance cards, and having some experience with what is going on in Clanton, felt the need to comment.

My son recently came upon a license check and learned that his insurance card was out of date. Mind you, his insurance was in full force, he just didn’t have his new card with him. This prompted a 30-minute stop and a ticket for driving without insurance.

Now, in most municipalities where the city management is kind and proactive, what a person would do in this situation is present the current card to the town clerk, or even fax it to her, and the ticket would be not be processed. This has happened to me, in Wetumpka recently, where the management is apparently kind and proactive. But here in Clanton, the city mandates that you appear in municipal court, taking time off work (if you work the second shift as my son does), and show the card to the judge, who then assesses you $148.50 in court costs for proving you are a law abiding citizen.

My question is, “Why?” Let’s analyze who this procedure affects. It doesn’t affect outlaws who drive without insurance because they will not be able to show the judge any insurance card, and they are actually guilty of the crime for which the spirit of this law was written and will have to pay a $500 fine. It doesn’t affect people who buy “one-day” policies just so they can have an insurance card for six months even though they have no insurance, because they will make it through the license check with no problem. It doesn’t affect people who unlawfully forge insurance cards on their home computers because they too will not be detained. No, the procedure only affects unlucky schmucks like me, who sometimes don’t go through the mail promptly enough to find the new card and go be-bopping up to the officer when he asks for my papers thinking everything’s all right, which it actually is.

How does the city benefit from this? It can’t be good to enrage a group of people you’d think they would like to have around—that is college educated, law abiding folk who buy car insurance. It can’t be to provide a deterrent for driving without insurance, because as I have said, it has no effect on those people. The only thing I can think of is that the city needs the $148.50.

It would be wrong to complain about the police for this. They only do what they are told. Letters to his state representative and senator received kind personal replies, but as is sometimes the case with politicians, they foretold a plan which does not yet exist, but were hopeful of getting passed, and provided little or no solution to the current problem. No, clearly, the mayor and the city council are responsible. If they think this procedure is unnecessary and wrong, which it is, they should put a stop to it.

In the process, my son, who ironically has a degree in political science, has received a real-time civics lesson, and he is not pleased. I hope one day you will give him your vote. Thank you for your time.

Lee Windham, Clanton