Auto insurance coverage helps protect you in the event of an accident. Having appropriate insurance can mean the difference between a hefty out-of-pocket cost after a crash or a simple claim with your local car accident lawyer. However, the rising costs of auto insurance can make it very tempting for some people to think they can go without it. This is not the case – and not just because of potential crashes. The state of Alabama wants everyone to have proper coverage so that all drivers can tend to their damages after an accident. Because of this, like other states, Alabama has mandatory liability insurance laws.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
Alabama law requires all drivers to carry a minimum liability insurance policy of:
- $25,000 coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident
- $50,000 coverage for bodily injury or death of two or more people in an accident
- $25,000 coverage for property damage of another’s property in an accident
In addition to possessing these minimum levels of auto insurance, drivers must always carry proof of insurance with them while operating a motor vehicle. Your proof of insurance may be either physical or electronic.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
Failure or refusal to provide proof of auto insurance is a Class C misdemeanor. While the extent of the penalties depends on if the driver has failed to produce proof of insurance before, there are no first-time exceptions to not having proper insurance coverage.
Penalties for a first offense may include:
- Fine up to $500
- Imprisonment of up to 3 months
- 45-day registration suspension
- Vehicle Impoundment
- $200 registration reinstatement fee
- Demonstration of proof of insurance for 1 year after reinstatement
Penalties for second and subsequent offenses may include:
- Fine up to $,1000 or $3,000
- Imprisonment of up to 6 months
- 6-month license suspension
- 4-month registration suspension
- Vehicle Impoundment
- $400 registration reinstatement fee
- Demonstration of proof of insurance for 3 years after reinstatement
For compliance and to demonstrate of proof of insurance, you will file an SR-22 form. This is a type of insurance that works when an insurer also files an SR-22 on your behalf. This type of insurance tends to only meet minimum state liability requirements and does not provide any additional coverage.
You will use your SR-22 insurance to fulfill the proof of insurance following your registration reinstatement. After that period has passed, you can then seek out your own insurance policy.
Any driver with insufficient insurance coverage in an auto incident is subject to a civil penalty if they do not receive a citation for inappropriate insurance at the time of the incident. The fine for a first-time offense is $200, the second-time offense is $300, and any subsequent offenses are $400 each. Failure to pay the fine within 45 days or to request a hearing will result in a 90-day license suspension.
What to Do If You Have Insurance Coverage but Cannot Provide Proof
Even drivers who have proper insurance coverage may be subject to penalties if they cannot provide proof of insurance upon request. However, these drivers can avoid such consequences by providing the court with proof of auto insurance that also shows the policy was active at the time of the incident. Drivers should show such proof before their court date.
Failure to have auto insurance does not just have one-time consequences. Any convictions of insufficient insurance coverage become part of your driving record and can make insurance companies view you as a high-risk driver. While Alabama guarantees all licensed drivers access to liability coverage, the state also allows for insurance companies to deny coverage to such high-risk drivers.
One time is all it takes to make it difficult to obtain insurance in the future. For the sake of other drivers and yourself, it is best to abide by state insurance laws.