Gas prices will rise, but unreasonable prices are illegal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, oil production has been disrupted in Texas and Louisiana. This will naturally push gas prices upward. However, unreasonable gas pricing is illegal.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency on Sept. 1 to prevent price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Alabama’s price gouging law comes into effect when the governor has declared a state of emergency, and it prohibits the “unconscionable pricing” of items for sale or rent. Unconscionable means not right or reasonable.

Governor Ivey said this disruption in supply inherently places upward pressure on gasoline prices, but doesn't justify companies raising their prices significantly.

She has waived the federal hours of service requirements on petroleum transport motor carriers and drivers, so it's illegal for anyone to in that state to impose unreasonable prices for gas.

Although what constitutes an unconscionable price is not specifically set forth in state law, a price that is 25 percent or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days is a suspected case of unconscionable pricing. The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in Alabama.

Ivey also issued an emergency declaration to temporarily lift restrictions on the number of hours that truck drivers delivering fuel can work, hoping to prevent shortages in the state.

If you suspect a vendor of price gouging you can report it by filling out this consumer complaint form.