Nationwide insurance representative Rickey Harris in Jasper said the number may be even higher, although the 22 percent estimate already ranks Alabama as the sixth worst state for uninsured drivers.
Because the uninsured rate has remained so high, the state has established new methods for enforcing the existing laws. The three new methods for enforcement will include requiring law enforcement to verify insurance coverage during traffic stops or accidents, requiring county probate offices to verify insurance coverage before issuing a tag or renewing a tag and requiring the Department of Revenue to send out verification requests to those who have had their registrations suspended, who have been convicted of violating the insurance requirement previously and anyone who has had their driving privileges suspended or revoked.
Law enforcement and probate officials will verify insurance by using the Online Insurance Verification System. If insurance can not be verified using the system, it is the responsibility of the driver/owner to provide proof of insurance.
This does not change the requirements for drivers on the road. They are still required to keep liability insurance that covers $25,000 for death or bodily injury to one person, $50,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more persons and $25,000 for damage or destruction of property. The new law give more avenues to enforce the existing law.
“Basically the penalties have increased and the enforcement has increased,” Harris said.
As of Tuesday, an owner or operator can face a fine of $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for each additional violations and subsequent violations can even result in suspension of a driver’s license. Violations can also result in the vehicle’s registration being suspended and a first-time fee of $200 and subsequent violations can result in a $400 fee and a four-month registration suspension.