No insurance? There’s a penalty

Published 12:03 am Saturday, December 22, 2012

A statewide requirement that automobile owners carry minimum liability insurance isn’t anything new — but, beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the requirement will be more strictly enforced and carry expensive punishments for those who don’t comply.

Beginning with the new year, those at the Covington County Probate Office will be required to verify proof of sustained insurance by anyone registering a vehicle for the first time or renewing a vehicle registration.

Probate Judge Ben Bowden said the measure is something people will have to get used to doing.

“Our No. 1 priority is to serve the public, so we want to make sure everyone knows about the new law,” Bowden said. “I realize how frustrating it can be to take the time to stop by and get your new tag, only to find out your don’t have all the information you need. Unfortunately, there is no waiver at the local level. If we can’t verify proof of liability insurance, you will not be able to renew your tag.”

In addition to providing proof of insurance, one must also provide driver’s license information for all parties listed on the vehicle registration.

Bowden said staff should be able to take a person’s policy number and verify that insurance is in place.

“However, it is a new system, and I am sure there are kinks to be worked out,” he said. “To avoid a wasted trip or delay, I am recommending that everyone please bring their insurance card or policy in with them when they are renewing a tag.  You will also need a valid ID.”

Once information is entered into the statewide system, law enforcement officials will have access to the information to verify compliance with the law in the event a motorist is pulled over.

“The law requiring mandatory vehicle liability insurance has been in place for several years,” Bowden said. “This latest change simply requires the owner to prove they are following the law before getting a tag. It will require a little extra work on our part, but it is worth it.  Liability insurance helps protect all of us on the road, and we want to do our part.”

According to information from the Alabama Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division, the law will be enforced by verification by law enforcement during traffic stops or accidents; verification by county license plate issuing officials prior to registration or renewal; verification by the Department of Revenue by sending requirements to vehicle owners whose registrations have been suspended, who have been convicted of mandatory liability insurance violations or whose driving privileges have been suspended or revoked.

Penalties for violations will be costly with the first violation carrying a fine of up to $500 with subsequent violations fined by $1,000. With a second violation, drivers may also have their license suspended. Additionally, if a vehicle is registered or operated without insurance, the registration will be suspended and the owner will be subject to a $200 reinstatement fee for the first violation and a $400 reinstatement fee for second or subsequent violations as well as a mandatory four-month registration suspension.

Minimum liability coverage for all registered vehicles include no less than $25,000 for death and bodily injury to one person; $50,000 for death and bodily injury to two or more persons; and $25,000 for damage or destruction of property.

For details on the mandatory insurance requirements or for information on documents need to register or renew vehicles in Covington County, contact the probate office at 334-428-2510 or the Alabama Department of Public Safety Website at