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Q

I was told that a new Texas law permits law enforcement to impound a vehicle driven by driver who is not specifically named on the insurance card - even though the car is insured and the insurance is valid. Is this true?


A

We have not heard of any such new Texas law. Texas law does require people who drive in Texas to be able to pay for the accidents they cause. Most drivers do this by buying automobile Liability insurance for the vehicles they own. Liability insurance pays to repair or replace the other driver's car and pays other people's medical expenses.

As the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) notes, with most Texas Liability car insurance policies you and your family members, "Family members" include anyone living in your home related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption, including your spouse, children, in-laws, adopted children, wards, and foster children are normally covered. Other people driving your car with your permission, family members attending school away from home, and spouses living elsewhere during a martial separation also might be covered depending upon the terms of your policy.

We contacted the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) though to see if there is a new law that allows drivers who have borrowed an insured car to get ticketed and/or the car to be impounded if the driver's name is not specifically on the insurance card.

The TX DPS and Highway Patrol responded to our inquiry with the following information. They stated that applicable Texas state statutes regarding Liability insurance allow the highway patrol (and other TX law enforcement officers) to ticket drivers if their name was not specifically on the insurance card.

The DPS representative stated that you can see under 601.073 of the Texas Transportation Code, the name of the insured is required on the policy and thus they can ticket those whose name is not on the proof of insurance they provide to law enforcement. Under Section (a) (1) of this law it states a motor vehicle liability insurance policy must state: (1) the name and address of the named insured.

You can read through the rest of this part of the Texas Transportation Code and the DPS representative also said other portions of the Code that should read through since they pertain to this situation include

  • 601.051. Requirement of Financial Responsibility.
  • 601.052. Exceptions to Financial Responsibility Requirement.
  • 601.053. Evidence of Financial Responsibility.
  • 601.054. Owner May Provide Evidence of Financial Responsibility for Others.

The DPS did note that in most instances, the insurance company will cover vehicles temporary loaned to another driver. If you policy provides for that, than you can supply a copy to the judge for his consideration if you are ticketed for driving without insurance in another person's car.

The reasoning the highway patrol gave for tickets of this type is that many car insurance policies offer a reduced rate to drivers by excluding the age of drivers authorized to operate the vehicle so without the person's name being on the policy (insurance card) they do not know if the driver is actually insured for that vehicle or not.

They also stated that there are also policies that provide coverage to the policy holder when operating another vehicle such as a borrowed car or rental.

You may want to contact ask the court and/or the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to see if they have any consumer advice on what you could keep with your vehicles if you loan them out to others to show that these drivers are covered by your insurance policy and thus keep them from being ticketed.

As for the impounding of cars without insurance, a new law that perhaps you heard about is the Uninsured Motorist Ordinance that the City Council of Dallas that went into effect January 2009. This new law says that drivers in Dallas who are stopped for a traffic violation and cannot provide proof of the state required auto insurance will have their vehicle towed at the owner's expense.

Previously uninsured drivers in Dallas were only towed in the event of a traffic accident. The new ordinance extends towing to any traffic violations where a driver is found to be driving without insurance. To find out more about the Uninsured Motorist Ordinance you can read the amended Section 28-4 of the Dallas City Code.

So if in Texas you can be ticketed for driving without insurance if your name is not on card specifically than likely in Dallas if your name is not on the card than the police will go ahead and impound the car you are driving per their new city ordinance. You can contact Dallas police or courts for more information on this subject.


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