News & Updates
September 12, 2012
Changes Coming to Mandatory Insurance Law
Editorial from Florence Times Daily:
Drivers who don’t like surprises while motoring down the road should take notice.
Beginning Jan. 1, it will be easier for authorities to enforce heavy new fines for driving without liability car insurance.
Alabama passed a law in 2000 requiring drivers to carry at least minimal liability insurance. But some drivers found a way around the law, state Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee said.
The law requires drivers to have proof of insurance before they can obtain a license plate. In order to buy a car tag and skirt the law, drivers purchase a policy on monthly payments. They show the insurance card to get their license plate and then cancel the policy after just one monthly payment.
The current system has become such a joke that some license commissioner offices no longer ask for insurance cards, Magee said.
Changes to law in 2011 include a new Online Insurance Verification System. The system lets officials in a county license commissioner’s office verify insurance coverage.
Police in the field also will have access to the online system. When they stop a vehicle, they will use the system to verify whether the driver has insurance.
The newer law includes fines that are much higher than liability insurance. The fines are up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for each additional violation. A driver’s license can be suspended with a second violation.
Also, the vehicle’s registration can be suspended, resulting in a $200 reinstatement fee for the first offense. A subsequent offense includes a $400 registration fee and four-month registration suspension.
The new requirements and penalties likely will be a hardship for people who can least afford them. But, as is often stated, driving is a privilege, not a right.
Magee said 22 percent of the 4.2 million vehicles with titles in Alabama lack insurance. If one of those vehicles collides with another car, the other driver is out of luck.
It should not be that way.
Each person who chooses to drive should be responsible for any damage or injuries caused in an accident. With fines higher than the cost of insurance coverage, it makes financial sense to purchase coverage.
The steep fines, along with tougher new requirements and the verification system in Alabama, should result in a smaller percentage of uninsured vehicles on the road.
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