A day probably doesn't go by that we don't see a car wreck. The damage isn't always limited to vehicles. Oklahoma roads and bridges can also take a hit, and in many cases, we're paying for it.
When the Oklahoma Department of Transportation can't track down the driver who caused the damage, you and I foot the bill.
In 2012, there were 14 incidents where the damage was more than $10,000. We paid to repair three of the 14, totally nearly $221,000.
Now the more common damage, like hitting a guardrail or stop sign, isn't as costly, but can add up fast! Out of 2149 incidents in 2012, we paid for 180 repairs. The price tag was about $541,000.
By law, any driver who causes damage to state property and doesn't notify the state, faces a $500 fine and up to one year in jail, in addition to the cost of repairs.
ODOT Collection Attempts:
For amounts under $10,000:
A collection attempt will stay open for 270 days. During that time ODOT notifies the person and tries to collect. If that fails, ODOT work with DPS in suspending their license. The license is freed after a claim is paid in full, however the driver still has to get it reinstated. Payment plans are an option.
For amounts over $10,000:
ODOT generally deals with insurance companies to collect a claim. Most of these are commercial truck companies. There is no statute of limitations on when ODOT can collect. If they recently discover legitimate proof someone did damages 5 years ago, ODOT can attempt to collect payment today. Although rare, if ODOT deals with someone who does not have insurance, the driver can set up a payment plan.