Riverside County Approves Crash Tax

June 8, 2011

The Riverside County, Calif., Board of Supervisors has voted 4 – 0 to charge at-fault drivers in auto accidents a fee for emergency response services.

The ordinance backed by the Riverside County Fire Department and Office of Emergency Services, and approved by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, will charge the at-fault driver a flat fee of 13 percent of the cost for emergency response. It is unclear if the county will utilize a vendor to collect these fees.

“Crash tax” ordinances and costs charged in other communities vary, with fees ranging from $100 to more than $2,000 for response services. The “average” charge is approximately $200, according to the Association of California Insurance Companies, which opposes such taxes.

“Riverside County is no different than any other municipalities facing difficult budget crunches, and they are using a crash tax as an opportunity to increase revenues without formally raising taxes,” said Armand Feliciano, ACIC vice president. “California drivers will face a patchwork of different rules and potential fees as they travel around the state this summer.”

ACIC said more than 60 municipalities and fire districts in California have implemented crash taxes. Its members oppose the taxes because they believe they unfairly penalize insurers and may increase the cost of insurance coverage.

Feliciano noted that “five cities have repealed their crash tax ordinances because they did not generate the projected revenue and cast a cloud over the city’s business climate.”

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