HB80: Limiting Unnecessary Vehicle Impound
This bill failed in the House on a 29-40 vote.
Libertas Institute supports this bill.
Under current Utah law, police are ordered by statute to seize vehicles that are being oeprated without insurance. Because this is already a crime, those who are caught without insurance are now also left without a car and will incur further expense retrieving their vehicle. This process subjects people’s property to seizure without due process.
Not every case of an uninsured motorist should mandate automatic impoundment. Circumstances may exist that warrants some discretion by law enforcement in impounding a vehicle. House Bill 80, sponsored by Representative Fred Cox, removes the mandate for automatic impoundment and replaces it with discretion for law enforcement to decide when circumstances require impoundment in the case of a vehicle being operated without insurance.
Property rights include the protection of property from unreasonable seizure. This means, in this case, that a vehicle owner should be afforded due process before having their property seized by the government. The only exception, if any, should be a substantial and imminent threat to public safety. Every case of a vehicle being operated without insurance is not also a case of an imminent or substantial threat to public safety. Hence, state law should not mandate impoundment in such cases. This bill is a step in the right direction toward protecting property owners from unnecessary vehicle impound.