It's a new year and law enforcement officers have a new tool to make sure Alabamians aren’t driving without insurance. The Mandatory Liability Insurance Law goes into effect on January 1,2013 and there are consequences for violators.
The law provides that no person shall operate, register, or maintain registration of a motor vehicle designed to be used on a public road or highway unless it is covered by liability insurance policy.
The liability insurance policies must be issued by insurers licensed to do business in Alabama for no less than:
- $25,000 for death or bodily injury to one person
- $50,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more persons
- $25,000 for damage or destruction of property
The Alabama Department of Revenue has set up the Online Insurance Verification System, so law enforcement can easily check your insurance status.
“We’ll have that in real time and that’s the key component,” says Alabama State Trooper Curtis Summerville. “It’s right now. We know right now if that person has insurance or not."
Trooper Summerville says sometimes the only verification they have is word of mouth or an insurance card, which may not be current.
“Sometimes people do things to skirt around the law or get around the law,” explains Summerville. “Oftentimes, people do not have insurance or their insurance has lapsed for whatever reason."
If you're caught without insurance, there are serious consequences.
“There are substantial fines that can be involved,” says Summerville, “You may also lose the right to actually drive your vehicle on a public roadway. If you’re caught without insurance, that means you’re in violation of the insurance law and your vehicle will automatically be towed away."
If an owner or operator is convicted of a mandatory liability insurance violation, fines can be up to $500 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for second or subsequent violations.
In addition to the above violation, if you don't have the proper insurance, the vehicle registration will be suspended and the owner will be subject to a reinstatement fee.
“This doesn’t really require motorists to do anything other than get insurance," says Summerville.
According to the Insurance Research Council, the uninsured motorist rate in Alabama is an estimated 22 percent, which ranks six worst in the nation. This law was passed to protect consumers when they’re involved in an accident.
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