September 19, 2009

Loophole In Ohio Policy Allows Thousands Of Undocumented Immigrants To Register Cars

Auto insurance laws in Ohio have recently received major attention. Due to a loophole in state policy, thousands of undocumented immigrants have been permitted to register their cars. Many times they are doing so without showing proof of an active auto insurance policy – something mandated by Ohio state law. According to officials at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, at the time the policy was made, these consequences were unknown by most policymakers. The issue has caused some controversy in Ohio government. Because of this loophole, the state has become one of the easiest for an undocumented immigrant to obtain driving registration in.

False vehicle registrations will be a problem for Ohio drivers regardless of whether the loophole is fixed by government. Invalid registration forms that have already been processed most likely are accompanied by a lack of auto insurance coverage. Without an auto insurance policy and adequate records of car ownership, these drivers could cause major hassle if involved in a vehicle accident on the insurance end of things. Even if an undocumented driver is covered by some form of Ohio auto insurance policy, their lack of identification puts up other major roadblocks in making insurance claims. In the event of an accident, unregistered drivers may cost other valid drivers on the road major amounts of insurance money.

Though it seems obvious the policy requires reform, policymakers find themselves in a bind. They must consider not only the negative impact from the current policy, but also the negative impact that changing the policy could have on the economy – such as the sale of vehicles or the inability of immigrant workers to travel to their jobs. Policy makers note that undocumented workers do contribute to the state economy. Several Ohio officials and members of the state business community see disallowing them the use of vehicles due to lack of paperwork as unfair. However, state officials are also worried that policy changes may actually prevent lawful auto dealers and consumers from obtaining vehicle registration with ease, potentially making business suffer. But, consider the cost of invalid registration forms for registered auto insurance policyholders who find themselves with a damages claim no one can seem to track down. In the end, decision-making will be a balancing act between the economic and workforce needs of the state of Ohio and the cost of policy reform to business owners and consumers.

Reform and the current state of affairs have been bearing down on the Ohio economy. Though it seems like an easy fix, the policy changes could easily affect everyone – something the government is taking into careful consideration.