New liability insurance law for drivers goes into effect

Published 11:07 pm Friday, October 20, 2017

Drivers without insurance will no longer be able to get away without having at least liability insurance on their vehicle.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency along with other agencies will begin enforcing the Alabama Mandatory Liability Insurance Law, which was passed by the Alabama legislature during the 2016 session and signed by then Governor Robert Bentley.

Robyn Bradley Bryan, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, said the bill allows law enforcement officers to verify if a driver’s insurance was valid during a traffic stop or an accident. Drivers without insurance will face civil penalties.

“There was really no way for troopers or other law enforcement officers … to verify whether you had insurance,” Bryan said. “Even if you presented an insurance card, you may have paid one month out of six months and allowed it to lapse, so there was no way for them to verify that.”

Bryan said the new law only affects drivers without insurance that are not ticketed at the time of their traffic stop or accident.

“Now, if a driver is uninsured and is either pulled over for a traffic stop or involved in a crash, if they don’t have proof of insurance and are not issued a ticket at the scene or during the traffic stop, our system will go back and verify whether they had insurance,” she said.

Drivers that are ticketed for not having insurance during a traffic stop or accident will not receive a second citation after the verification.

“It’s just those that are not ticketed,” Bryan said.

The first offense costs $100, the second $300 and the third $400. Drivers that do not pay the penalty face a 90-day suspension of their driver’s license. The reinstatement fee is $100.

Drivers have the option to appeal the penalty, and a hearing will be conducted to determine if the vehicle was in compliance at the time of the stop or accident.

Bryan also pointed out the notification of the civil penalty will be sent to the address ALEA has on file for the driver’s license record.

“If they have not changed their address in our system, then it’s going to go to whatever [address] is on your driver’s license record,” she said.“They can go to one of our driver’s license offices or they can go to our website, www.alrenewal.com, and there is a change of address form, and they can fill that out.”

Bryan said there is no cost for change of address.

Jim Riding, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Insurance, said uninsured drivers cause the cost of insurance to go up for others, so this new law should help prevent that.

“It just makes sense to have liability insurance on your vehicle because operating a motor vehicle without it drives up everyone’s rates,” he said.

“Do the right thing and follow Alabama’s Mandatory Liability Insurance laws to help stabilize rates for Alabama insurance consumers.”

Bryan said once the law is enforced there will be a call center for people with questions and concerns.