New tag registration law begins Jan. 1, 2001

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 15, 2000

Managing Editor

In a little more than two weeks, Pike County vehicle owners, like vehicle owners throughout the state, will be facing some new procedures when purchasing their tags.

As part of the state’s mandatory vehicle liability insurance law, the state will require all vehicle owners who are purchasing tags for their vehicles to present a valid state identification – either a state ID or a driver’s license – when purchasing their annual registration.

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"This applies to the owner of the vehicle," said Pike County Probate Judge William Stone. "No matter who drives the vehicle, the owner must show a valid ID."

The new requirement, considered to be phase 2 of the insurance law, which took affect statewide in June, will be applied beginning January 1, 2001.

Additionally, the new applications for vehicle registration also contain wording which certifies that the owner has liability insurance on his or her vehicle. Should the registrant sign the certification falsely, big penalties and fines could be forthcoming.

"We have nothing to do with actually checking information," said Stone. "That will all be done out of the State Department of Revenue."

The state will mail random questionnaires to residents throughout the state asking that they fill in the information contained and mail it back. The questionnaire asks specific questions about the owner’s insurance policy and authorizes the state to check with the insurance company to verify the information.

Should the registrant fail to fill out the application or supply false information, the tag will be suspended, Stone said.

"It is imperative that people have their proper addresses on file with our office," he said. "If they don’t, they won’t get the questionnaire and they will, consequently, be faced with a tag suspension."

Tag suspensions require a $100 reinstatement fee on a first violation. The fee climbs to $200 for a second violation in a four-year period and leads to the implementation of other fines, including mandatory tag suspension periods.

"This is serious business," Stone said. "The state has set some pretty strict standards to see to it that they can enforce this new law."

Additionally, a person caught driving with a suspended registration could face a fine up to $500 for the first offense and subsequent fines could rise to $1,000 if the person is caught more than once in a four-year period.

The new laws only apply, according to the state, to "self-propelled vehicles," which means that trailers and other such attachments to vehicles are exempt from the new laws.

Stone said he wants to remind everyone that they must have a valid state identification when registering their vehicles and, he said, it is imperative that the address on file is current.

"These things will ensure that the person doesn’t run into any major obstacles when registering their vehicle," he said.

Commercial vehicles must be registered using a valid federal tax identification number, Stone said.

Should anyone refuse to show a valid state ID or the proper tax ID, his or her tag will not be issued, in accordance with the new state law.

He encourages residents with questions about the new law and its effects to call the Alabama Department of Revenue’s hotline regarding the new policy at 334-353-2000.