A serious problem often faced by people injured in traffic accidents is the all-too-common scenario of the at-fault driver having no liablility insurance. This year, Alabama is enforcing the Mandatory Liability Insurance law it passed in 2011 by requiring drivers to show proof of insurance along with their driver's license when renewing their plates. DMV employees will then check an online insurance database hosted by the state Department of Revenue to make sure the driver does, indeed, have insurance, Tuscaloosanews.com reported.
Previously, a Birmingham News editorial stated, some drivers would buy insurance long enough to get an insurance card and then cancel the policy. That way, "An uninsured driver can show a law officer a 'valid' insurance card and have no insurance in place at all," the editorial said. "Now … the owners of the estimated 900,000 Alabama vehicles without insurance are more likely to get caught."
Beginning January 1, 2013, police officers will be able to check the Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS) as well. Drivers without insurance will face up to a $500 fine the first time and a $1,000 fine each subsequent time, according to Alfa Farmers News.
"[G]etting caught even once can be as expensive as having to purchase a simple auto liability insurance policy," Birmingham News stated.
Repeat offenders could have their license and registration suspended for six months.
With 22 to 25 percent of Alabama's four million registered vehicles being uninsured, the state ranks as the sixth most uninsured state in the U.S., Alfa Farmers News reported.
State Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee reportedly told the Associated Press that she hopes the OIVS will reduce that number to less than 10 percent.