New auto insurance law coming soon

Published 1:11 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Effective Jan. 1, there will be a new auto insurance law statewide in Alabama.

Alabama’s Online Insurance Verification System will allow law enforcement officers and license plate issuing officials to immediately verify insurance with the insurance company over the Internet.

Police officers can run the license plate number of a vehicle, and they will receive a response of “confirmed” or “not confirmed” as to whether or not the person has car insurance.

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Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese said he thinks it will be a good thing.

“I think it will be a good thing because only one in five people in Alabama have car insurance,” he said. “Officers can verify insurance with their in-car computers or with dispatch and have that information on the spot. They will run the tag number, and it will pull up the policy.”

Reese also said he thinks this will help push people to get insurance and keep it.

“A lot of people will buy insurance for a month or two, but let it lapse,” he said. “But they will keep their insurance card and officers at this point have no way to verify that.”

Reese added that there may be growing pains when the system is first implemented, but he believes it will work itself out once it gets going. He also wants to encourage people to get and keep insurance.

“I encourage people to get insurance,” he said, “because the state is starting to crack down on it.”

If someone is found to not have a minimum of liability insurance, the penalty for the first offense is up to a $500 fine. The vehicle’s registration will also be suspended, and there will be a $200 reinstatement fee.

The second and subsequent violations are subject to a $1,000 fine and a six-month driver’s license suspension. In addition, there will be a $400 fee to reinstate the vehicle’s registration along with a mandatory four-month registration suspension.