Alabama considers mandatory

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 4, 2000

insurance for drivers


Staff Writer

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Feb. 4, 2000 8 PM

If some Alabama legislators have their way, uninsured drivers could go to jail.

The House Banking and Insurance Committee voted 7-1 Wednesday to put a mandatory insurance bill before the full House of Representatives for debate.

Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, introduced the bill that is modeled after Illinois’ mandatory insurance requirement. He said the legislation in Illinois has reduced the number of uninsured motorists from about 25 percent to five percent. In Alabama, that percentage is about 27.5.

A 1999 law that goes into effect June 1 will require vehicle owners to have insurance. The new legislation, which has the support of Gov. Don Siegelman, would change how the 1999 law is administered and enforced.

State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, pointed out the difference between the legislation passed last year and the one being introduced this year is in the implementation.

"I supported it before and I’ll support it this time," Boothe said of the proposal.

He said the bill before the House is "a better way to streamline" how the law is implemented if it does pass.

Boothe said the legislation calls for owners to produce proof of insurance when purchasing a vehicle tag.

Hubbard’s goal in passing the legislation is to get reckless drivers off Alabama roadways.

He told the committee he wants the state to have the "best mandatory automobile liability insurance law in the nation."

Under Hubbard’s proposal, a first-time offender will be fined $500 and have the vehicle tag suspended. The owner will have to provide proof of SR-22 insurance and pay a $100 fee to have the tag reinstated.

A second-time offender will be fined $1,000 and have the tag suspended for four months. The reinstatement fee will be $200 on a second offense.

Subsequent offenses could result in suspension of the driver’s license and possible time in jail.

Although Hubbard does not believe insurance rates will increase, a representative from State Farm isn’t so sure.

"We’ll have to wait and see, but State Farm’s experience is it does intend to make rates go up," said Lu Rivera, public affairs specialist for State Farm.

Rivera said State Farm "fully supports" efforts of those attempting to get the legislation passed.

Attempts to reach officials with Alfa in Montgomery were unsuccessful.