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What Happens if You Drive Without Car Insurance in Alabama?

The other name for automobile insurance is proof of financial responsibility. This defines the purpose of auto insurance: to give the vehicle owner the ability to pay for damages in a Birmingham car accident. Purchasing auto insurance is a requirement in almost every state. Failing to purchase and maintain the correct categories and amounts of coverage is a crime in Alabama. Driving without car insurance could lead to criminal and civil penalties, as well as consequences such as paying for a victim’s damages out of pocket.

What Are Alabama’s Insurance Requirements?

Each state has unique requirements in terms of how much and what types of insurance drivers must purchase. A driver must first understand the laws in his or her state to stay on the right side of them. Buying the right amount of insurance is key if a driver wishes to avoid legal trouble. Under Alabama’s insurance law, the Mandatory Liability Insurance Act, the state uses a 25/50/25 car insurance system.

  • Bodily injury coverage: $25,000 per person per accident
  • Bodily injury coverage: $50,000 for all persons per accident
  • Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident

These are Alabama’s mandatory liability insurance amounts. No law requires drivers to only carry these amounts of insurance, however. Auto insurance companies offer additional types of coverage for drivers who want greater financial protection. A driver could purchase more insurance in any of the mandatory categories for better coverage. A driver could also invest in collision coverage, comprehensive coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.

Alabama Is a Fault Insurance State

All drivers in Alabama need to obey the state’s insurance laws. Otherwise, the victim of an auto accident may be unable to recover compensation for his or her medical bills and property repairs even though he or she did not cause the accident. Alabama is a fault car insurance state. Fault laws hold the party that caused the car accident legally responsible for victims’ damages. The at-fault party will rely on his or her car insurance to pay what the driver owes victims rather than having to pay out of pocket.

If the at-fault party is unlawfully driving without car insurance, he or she may end up personally liable for damages. A judge may be able to force the driver to pay through orders such as wage garnishment. Unfortunately, if the at-fault driver cannot afford to pay, victims may have to pay for their own damages or seek compensation from another at-fault party, such as the City of Birmingham or a vehicle manufacturer. The uninsured driver will not avoid accountability, however; he or she may face serious criminal penalties for breaking Alabama’s Mandatory Liability Insurance Act.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance

Violating Alabama’s car insurance law is a crime, not just a moving violation. It is a misdemeanor. If the courts convict a driver of operating a motor vehicle without car insurance, he or she could face a fine of up to $500 for a first offense. This fine increases to $1,000 to $3,000 for second and subsequent offenses (a Class B misdemeanor). A convicted driver could also face additional penalties.

  • Imprisonment of up to three months (or six months for subsequent violations)
  • Driving privileges suspended for six months for a second or subsequent offense
  • Suspended vehicle registration for 45 days (4 months for subsequent offenses)
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • $200 to $400 registration reinstatement fee
  • Demonstration of proof of insurance for one year for a first offense
  • Required SR-22 insurance for three years for a second or subsequent offense

SR-22 insurance can be much more expensive than conventional auto insurance in Alabama. An uninsured/underinsured motorist conviction will also remain on the driver’s permanent driving record, potentially leading to higher insurance premiums even after the SR-22 requirement ends. All drivers should carry the correct amounts of insurance in Alabama to avoid penalties.