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Sweet home Alabama can turn sour if you’re caught driving without car insurance meeting the state’s mandated minimum liability limits. Yet over 17% of Alabama motorists risk fines, license suspensions, and prison time by driving without coverage.
So what are Alabama’s minimum liability limits? Much like most other states, Heart of Dixie lawmakers require motorists to purchase and maintain auto insurance policies up to certain amounts. This helps ensure you can cover the costs of any injuries or damage sustained by you, your passengers, or other parties involved in an accident. All drivers must carry:
- $25,000 for bodily injury liability per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 for property damage liability
While this barebones policy will keep you in good standing with the law, it may not be sufficient to protect you against financial loss in an accident. Many motorists choose to invest in additional features and addons, set a lower deductible, or increase their coverage limits to make sure their insurance doesn’t fall short in the event of the worst.
On this page we will explore:
- First offense penalties for driving with no coverage in Alabama
- Second offense penalties for driving without car insurance in Alabama
- Reinstating your license after a Driving Without Insurance conviction
- SR-22 filing requirements in Alabama
- The consequences of causing a crash while you are uninsured
- The benefits of uninsured motorist coverage
- How providers calculate premiums in Alabama
- Alabama’s license points system
If you are involved in an accident or stopped by law enforcement, authorities can demand to see proof that you or your vehicle is insured up the state’s minimum liability limits. Proof of insurance (POI) can include any document from your insurer showing evidence of an up-to-date auto insurance policy. You can also request your insurer send you an official insurance card. Keep a copy of these important documents along with your vehicle’s registration and health insurance information stashed in your glove compartment at all times.
If you are unable to present proof of insurance, or your vehicle is not insured, you could face the following penalties:
First Offense Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Alabama
If you were hoping for just a slap on the wrist for driving without insurance, you’re out of luck. Violating the state’s mandatory insurance laws is categorized as a Class C misdemeanor. If you’re caught, your transgression could be etched into your criminal record for life, jeopardizing your chances of finding gainful employment, limiting child custody rights, impacting rental opportunities, and more. You will also have to pay up to $500 in fines, could spend up to three months behind bars, your vehicle registration will be suspended a minimum of 45days, and your vehicle could be impounded.
Second or Subsequent Offense Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance
Serial rulebreakers risk severe penalties. For your second or subsequent Driving Without Insurance conviction, you should expect to pay up to $3,000 in fines, serve up to six months in prison, a 6-month license suspension, a 4-month registration suspension, and car impoundment. Even worse, you will be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, joining the ranks of those convicted for crimes such as resisting arrest, cruelty to animals, and intimidating a witness in a trial.
FAQs About Driving Without Auto Insurance in Alabama
How Do You Reinstate Your License and Registration?
If you are convicted for a serious traffic violation – such as driving without insurance, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or committing numerous reckless driving offenses – your license and registration may be suspended.
The first time you are caught driving without insurance, you will have to present proof your vehicle is insured for a full calendar year to the relevant department. You will also need to pay $200 in reinstatement and processing fees before your driving privileges are restored.
For second or subsequent offenses, you will first have to complete SR-22 filing requirements before your registration and license are reinstated. The average cost of reclaiming your license and vehicle registration after a second offense can add up to $400 in fees.
What Are SR-22 Filing Requirements?
If your license is suspended or revoked, the state will need you to first complete SR-22 filing requirements to restore your driving privileges. Typically, Alabama requires motorists to fulfill this obligation for a period of three years. As pat of these requirements, you will need to purchase a type of coverage known as SR-22 insurance. Unlike standard policies that just insure a single vehicle, this policy covers you as an individual regardless of whether you are a driver or passenger in your own car(s) or someone else’s.
Your insurer will file the SR-22 form/certificate on your behalf. This document is proof that you have purchased a policy meeting the state’s mandated minimum liability limits. However, if you let your coverage lapse during the SR-22 filing period due to a missed payment or cancellation of your policy, your provider is required, by law, to report this lapse in coverage to authorities.
As a result, you could lose your driving privileges and will have to reset the clock on your SR-22 filing requirements.
What Happens If I’m Involved in Accident and I’m Uninsured?
Alabama employs a “fault” or “tort” system for resolving insurance claims. This means that the person responsible for causing in accident can be held liable for compensating the other parties for damages such as repair bills and injuries. If you are involved in an accident in Alabama, you can seek compensation in one of three ways:
- Filing a claim with your own insurer;
- Filing a lawsuit against the driver you believe is responsible for causing the accident; or
- Filing a claim against the at-fault motorist’s auto insurance provider.
However, if you cause an accident while you are uninsured, you won’t just face the administrative and criminal penalties for driving without insurance. Coverage is your financial safety net in the event of the worst. Take away that protection and your exposed to extreme financial loss when the other parties involved in the accident decide to file a lawsuit against you to recover the costs of damage sustained.
Remember: When determining fault, if it emerges that you were driving without insurance, this negligence could sway the courts against you too.
What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Because Alabama has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country, your chances of being involved in accident with one of these errant motorists is extremely high. As a result, many providers offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as optional feature when purchasing a policy. This addon will kick in when an at-fault driver’s insurance falls short, saving you from having to dip into your own coverage (or pockets) to offset loss.
There are three main types of uninsured/underinsured motorist protection in the state:
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) insurance: If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, this feature will absorb the costs of treating injuries sustained by those include on your policy, including you, your family, friends, and even employees. This addon often covers costs such wages lost due to the injuries.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) insurance: This addon will absorb the expenses of repairing damage to your car caused by an at-fault uninsured driver. However, if you already carry collision coverage, our Geeks recommend instead increasing the limits of your pre-existing coverage as this main feature covers all damage to your vehicle resulting from collisions with other vehicles or objects.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) insurance: Many motorists will choose to purchase just a barebones policy to meet the state’s mandated minimum liability limits. However, this coverage is often insufficient in the aftermath of a more serious accident. Adding a UIM feature to your insurance will ensure you have the funds available to pay for treatment and repairs even when the at-fault driver’s insurance runs dry.
UMBI, UIM, and UMPD are relatively affordable additions that will protect you against extreme financial loss. In Alabama, there is almost a 2 in 10 chance that your next accident will involve an uninsured or underinsured driver. You should also consider purchasing the policy if you travel or live in the following states:
- New Mexico
- Washington, D.C.
How Do Car Insurance Companies in Alabama Calculate Premiums?
Your auto insurance rates are regulated by the Alabama Department of Insurance. This authority has enabled providers to charge rates based on risk profiles constructed using statistical data. As a result, the following factors could affect your monthly, quarterly, or annual premium:
- Your auto insurance coverage history;
- Your average mileage;
- Your permanent driving history and accident record;
- Your marital status;
- Your age;
- Your gender;
- Your credit history; and
- The age, make, and model of your car.
Your deductible will also have an impact on how much you will pay for your policy. A deductible represents the out-of-pocket amount you will have to fork over to cover damages such as repairs and treatment before your policy’s features compensate you for rest. A low deductible will increase your rates but cover you for more in the event of the worst. A high deductible will keep your rates low, but expose you to the risk of financial loss in a crash.
Alabama’s License Points System
Whenever you are caught committing traffic violations on Alabama’s roads, you will receive points on your license. The number you receive is calculated based on the severity of your infraction. For example, you will receive only 2 points for speeding between 1 to 25mph over the posted speed limit. However, if you’re caught overtaking a school bus, you will receive a total of 5 points.
If you’re a reckless driver, these points can add up quickly. Once you’ve received 12 points in a 2-year period, your license will be suspended for 60 days automatically. Receiving 15-17 points in that same period will result in a 90-day suspension, 18-20 points will result in a 120-day suspension, 21-23 points will result in a 180-day suspension, and 24 or more points will result in a 1-year suspension.
Fortunately, points for a specific violation expire 2 years after you committed the infraction. However, the violation will still be reflected on your driving record, potentially increasing resulting in permanent increases to your premium.
There are a few exceptions in Alabama’s points system. Namely, if you are ticketed for as series of so-called “serious” offenses within a three-year period, your license will be suspended automatically regardless of how many points you’ve accumulated. Serious offense can include reckless driving, following another vehicle too closely, making an unsafe lane change, or causing a fatal accident. For example, if you were caught endangering other motorists by making erratic lane changes twice in three years, your license will be suspended for 60 days. Commit another serious offense, and you won’t be able to drive for 3 months.
How Can I Reduce My Insurance Premiums in Alabama?
Insurers love safe drivers and will reward you for maintaining an accident-free driving record. You can also reduce your rates by:
- Enrolling in and completing a driving safety course
- Purchasing a vehicle with advanced safety features
- Avoiding accidents for a few years
- Not committing traffic violations
- Maintaining unbroken coverage for a few years
Many insurers offer discounts to certain categories of drivers, including pensioners, low-mileage motorists, and more. You can also secure reduced rates by bundling your auto insurance with your life insurance and home insurance as part of an umbrella plan or by insuring all your vehicles under one multi-car policy. Some providers offer discounts to drivers who transfer over their existing policy from another insurance company. Use our calculator above to find quotes for the best auto insurance policy for your budget and needs.