Changes in 2020 for Mandatory Liability Law

By Leada Gore |

A change in Alabama’s insurance laws will give a break to people found driving without insurance.

Currently, a driver found without liability insurance who is unable to provide proof of coverage within 30 days faces suspension of their registration. A $200 reinstatement fee and proof of insurance is then required.

A second violation within four years comes with a $400 reinstatement fee, requirements for proof of insurance and a mandatory four month suspension of registration.

It’s the four month suspension that’s being done away with, a change approved by the State Legislature last session. The Alabama Department of Revenue said the change provides a “clearer and less punitive path to compliance.”

The suspension of vehicle registration after the registrant became compliant with the law by providing proof of insurance and paying a $400 reinstatement fee created an undue burden on taxpayers. It prevented compliant taxpayers from driving to work, school, doctor visits, and the like after they became compliant with the law,” the department said in a news release.

The law also changes the “look-back” period for second and subsequent violations from four years to three.

The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Other changes include:

  • Providing a one-time option per registration year for a person to claim an exemption by voluntarily surrendering their vehicle registration and associated license plate prior to storing a vehicle.
  • Provides another option to surrender a license plate within 30 days of receiving a mandatory liability insurance notice, if the vehicle has not been operated since the date on the notice.  Effective January 1, 2020, registrants may surrender their license plates to the local tag office when they cancel their insurance policy.  This action may only be done one time per vehicle in a registration year.
  • Those changes are designed, the department said, to “provide clear avenues for compliance with the mandatory insurance law for deployed military personnel who will not be operating their vehicles, individuals with inoperable vehicles, or individuals who cannot operate their vehicle for medical reasons.”

Alabama’s Mandatory Liability Insurance law (32-7A-5 AND 32-7A-11) requires certain levels of coverage for vehicles driven in the state. The law went into effect Jan. 1, 2000.