Texas Auto Accidents: Uncovering The Risk Of Uninsured Drivers And A New Law For Paper License Plates In Texas

What Is This New Paper License Plate Law?

In a significant development for Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has signed HB718 into law, marking the end of the problematic era of temporary paper license tags.

This legislative change, scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2025, mandates the replacement of all paper tags with metal license plates.

The driving force behind this transformation was a yearlong investigative series by local reporters titled “Paper Tag Nation,” which highlighted the exploitation of Texas’s paper license tag system by criminals for various fraudulent activities.

The Problem With Paper License Plates

The “Paper Tag Nation” series unearthed a deeply concerning trend where criminals actively exploited the state’s paper license plate system, posing a significant threat to public safety.

These individuals illicitly obtained dealer licenses, providing access to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) online system. This access allowed them to print and subsequently sell counterfeit paper tags.

These fraudulent tags found their way onto vehicles used in serious criminal activities, prompting State Senator Royce West to emphasize the pressing need for legislative action to combat organized crime’s involvement in this issue.

Texas Takes Action

In response to the alarming rise in fraudulent paper license plates and their criminal applications, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles initiated a series of measures to tighten oversight and curb fraudulent activities among licensed car dealers.

However, as the DMV stepped up its efforts, criminals adapted by producing entirely fake paper plates, further escalating the problem.

As a decisive response to this issue, Governor Abbott signed HB718 into law. This pivotal legislation paves the way for the complete replacement of all paper tags with metal license plates, with an effective date set for July 1, 2025.

Key Provisions Of The New Paper License Plate Law

Under the newly enacted law, car dealers in Texas are now mandated to issue metal license plates when selling vehicles.

These metal plates, available for a small fee of $10, will replace the current paper one-trip and 30-day temporary permits.

To ensure a smooth transition, the law also guarantees that dealers can obtain a sufficient supply of metal plates in advance, preventing any unreasonable disruptions to their business operations.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) has been entrusted with establishing an expedited process for this transition. By December 1, 2024, the TxDMV is expected to have the necessary rules to facilitate this seamless shift.

Impact Of Local Investigative Reporting

The investigative efforts led by KXAN, collectively known as “Risky Rides,” spanned over six years, culminating in the exposure of a staggering $200 million black market that revolved around fraudulent paper plates.

This illicit trade had far-reaching consequences, impacting all 50 states in the U.S.

Despite efforts to address the issue, counterfeit plates with new security features began circulating almost immediately after their introduction.

This dire situation prompted Representative Craig Goldman and various law enforcement agencies to join forces, ultimately resulting in the successful passage of HB718.

This landmark legislation garnered strong support from Governor Abbott, highlighting the commitment to combatting fraudulent paper plates in Texas.

Strengthening Law Enforcement

As part of a broader effort to bolster law enforcement capabilities, the new law now mandates the fingerprinting of all car dealers.

This measure aims to tackle the issue of criminals using stolen identities to establish small dealerships, thereby complicating efforts to trace the individuals behind these fraudulent operations.

The TxDMV has made significant progress in implementing new security measures to combat fraudulent tags.

Additionally, HB914, effective September 1, clarifies that temporary license plates are considered “government records,” streamlining the prosecution of tag fraud with tampering charges.

Future For Texas Drivers

Commencing in July 2025, Texas drivers can anticipate a much smoother vehicle purchasing process.

Dealers must provide metal plates immediately upon vehicle purchase, eliminating the need for paper tags and subsequent visits to dealerships or tax offices.

This shift will yield tangible benefits, substantially reducing counterfeiting and illegal online sales and ultimately enhancing the safety of Texas roads.

In the interim, law enforcement agencies remain committed to removing fraudulent paper plates from circulation, addressing a persistent issue within the state, and helping to minimize Texas uninsured motorist statistics.

Cracking Down On Uninsured Motorists

While the new law primarily targets fraudulent paper plates, it can potentially address another significant issue plaguing Texas roads – uninsured motorists.

Uninsured drivers can pose a considerable financial risk to other road users, as their lack of insurance coverage can leave accident victims with substantial expenses.

According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), in 2019, approximately one in eight drivers, or 12.6%, was uninsured, making it crucial to tackle the issue of uninsured drivers in Texas statistics. This percentage was lower than the 13.1% recorded in 2017.

Within the other 49 states, Mississippi reported the highest percentage of uninsured drivers at 29.4%.

In comparison, New Jersey had the lowest at 3.1%, showcasing the state-by-state disparities in addressing uninsured driver accidents.

States with the most uninsured drivers:

  • Mississippi: 29.4%
  • Michigan: 25.5%
  • Tennessee: 23.7%
  • New Mexico: 21%
  • Washington: 21%

States with the fewest uninsured motorists:

  • New Jersey: 3.1%
  • Massachusetts: 3.5%
  • New York: 4.1%
  • Maine: 4.9%
  • Wyoming: 5.8%

Around 28 million motorists drove without insurance in 2019, and 21 states had uninsured motorist rates higher than the national average.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage cost drivers over $13 billion in paid premiums in 2016, amounting to approximately $78 per insured vehicle.

Various factors lead to driving without insurance, but statistics from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) indicate that 82% of uninsured drivers face financial constraints preventing them from affording car insurance or owning vehicles that are inoperative or unused.

Texas’ Battle with Uninsured Drivers

The state of Texas faces a significant challenge concerning uninsured motorists.

As per data from the Texas Department of Transportation, around 80% of drivers maintain at least the mandatory minimum insurance coverage. More than 3,000,000 individuals, about 20% of drivers, operate their vehicles without insurance coverage.

This alarming statistic underscores the need for measures to address uninsured drivers effectively and safeguard against Texas uninsured motorists.

Increasing Protection Against Uninsured Drivers

While the new Texas law cannot confirm that all uninsured motorists utilize fraudulent paper plates, it carries the potential to address a portion of the issue by ensuring that vehicles on the road have legitimate metal license plates.

To enhance protection against uninsured motorists and minimize the financial risks associated with accidents involving them, consider the following steps:

  • Carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
  • Explore an umbrella policy that offers additional liability coverage when the limits of your existing insurance policies are insufficient to cover damages.
  • Practice safe driving habits.

Final Thoughts On The New Paper License Plate Law And Uninsured Motorists

Eliminating paper license plates in Texas represents a massive moment in the fight against crime and fraud.

This legislative change, driven by investigative journalism, close collaboration with law enforcement agencies, and legislative action, promises to elevate security and convenience for Texas drivers, thereby addressing the Texas paper license plate problems.

As metal plates become the new standard, the state takes a crucial step forward in its ongoing efforts to improve road safety, reduce crime, and mitigate the impact of uninsured motorists on its streets.

Frequently Asked Questions If You’ve Been In A Car Accident In Houston

How Soon Should You Report Your Accident?

In Texas, reporting any automobile accident involving personal injury, fatalities, or property damage exceeding $1,000 is important.

This report should be filed within ten days from the accident date.

The report can be submitted conveniently online or via phone through your local law enforcement agency.

Failing to adhere to this requirement may result in fines and other potential penalties.

If you’re uncertain about the reporting process, don’t hesitate to contact a seasoned attorney specializing in car accidents at Abraham Watkins. We can offer you the necessary guidance and support.

What’s The Timeframe For Filing A Car Accident Lawsuit In Texas?

By Texas Law, you have two years from the accident date to initiate a personal injury lawsuit.

In certain circumstances, it might be possible to extend this deadline, but it is firmly advisable to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer at your earliest convenience. Doing so will ensure that your case is assessed promptly and any potential claims are pursued on time.

Can I Pursue A Lawsuit As A Passenger Involved In A Car Accident?

You can file a lawsuit if you were a passenger in a car accident.

Your claim largely depends on the specific circumstances and liability for the accident. If the driver of the vehicle you were in is at fault, you can pursue a claim against them for negligence.

If another party is responsible for the accident, you may also have grounds to sue them. It is crucial to engage the services of an attorney specializing in car accidents to explore your legal options thoroughly and determine the validity of your claim for damages.

Time is of the essence, as there may be time constraints on filing a claim. Your attorney will provide detailed information on the relevant laws and regulations applicable to your situation.

Can I Afford Legal Fees?

Many individuals often forego pursuing their claims due to concerns about legal fees in the event of an unfavorable outcome.

At Abraham Watkins, we firmly believe that all accident victims deserve the opportunity to seek compensation and recover their damages following an accident caused by someone else’s negligence.

That’s why we operate on a contingency fee basis.

This approach ensures that victims are not burdened with upfront fees for legal representation. We offer a complimentary case evaluation, and if we determine that your case has merit, we will take it on without any upfront costs.

Furthermore, there are no charges if we do not win your case. This means you will never be financially disadvantaged.

In the event of a successful litigation outcome or a negotiated settlement with the opposing party, our fees are calculated as a flat percentage. During your free consultation, we will discuss this percentage.

You can opt-out with no obligations if you disagree with our terms. Our primary objective is to ensure you clearly understand your legal options.

Should I Accept An Initial Settlement Offer?

In most cases, we advise against accepting the first settlement offer.

Typically, initial offers will be lowball offers to persuade you to accept a settlement significantly below what you rightfully deserve.

Always discuss subsequent settlement offers with your Abraham Watkins attorney.

While some offers may be reasonable and acceptable, in most instances, negotiations between your attorney and the opposing party are necessary to secure a settlement that genuinely reflects your damages and is fair and equitable.

What Is The Timeline For Resolving My Case?

The timeframe for resolving your case hinges on several factors, including the severity of your injuries, the skill level of legal representation on both sides, and the determination of liability.

Additionally, the reputation of your attorney can significantly influence the duration of your case, as many insurance companies prefer settling rather than facing a tenacious litigator in court.

When Should I Contact A Houston Car Accident Attorney?

The simple answer is the sooner, the better.

If you’re unsure, go ahead and just give us a call.

The free consultation lets us guide your options and offer valuable legal advice.

You should always reach out to an attorney in the following situations:

Someone Has Been Killed Or Injured:
Suppose you or a loved one has sustained injuries due to a car accident caused by someone else. In that case, it is imperative to contact an attorney after ensuring that immediate medical attention is provided. Prioritize medical care before seeking legal counsel.

Law Enforcement Involvement:
When the police are called to the scene, which is typically the case in accidents resulting in injuries, consulting with an attorney can be advantageous. Your attorney can assist in obtaining accident reports and test results, especially if there are suspicions of impaired driving.

Involvement Of Insurance Companies:
Insurance companies prioritize profit, including yours. While some insurers may cooperate more, it’s wise to understand that they may not prioritize your interests. Legal representation is vital when pursuing medical bill payments and damage recovery from your insurance company or another party’s insurer. Their legal teams often work to undermine claims or reduce payouts.

What To Do Next

Contact the legal team at Abraham Watkins today if you or someone you love has suffered injury or death from a car accident involving an uninsured motorist or other traffic-related accident in Houston.

Let us put our experience and dedication to work for you, fighting tirelessly to protect your rights and secure the compensation you need to move forward. Your recovery is our top priority, and we are here to help you every step of the way.

You are not alone. Who you hire matters!

Contact us today for a free consultation at 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.