Changes coming Jan. 1 for license plates, tag renewals



Revenue Commissioner Gregg Armstrong displays the two cards vehicle owners need to bring to the courthouse when applying for a license or renewing registration on their vehicles: an up-to-date proof of insurance card and valid Alabama driver’s license.

Revenue Commissioner Gregg Armstrong displays the two cards vehicle owners need to bring to the courthouse when applying for a license or renewing registration on their vehicles: an up-to-date proof of insurance card and valid Alabama driver’s license.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013 all vehicle owners must show proof of liability insurance along with their driver’s license when requesting a license plate or renewing registration on vehicles at the courthouse.

That means they should present both their insurance card and driver’s license at the courthouse window when registering or renewing registration on vehicles. The insurance card or other proof of insurance must show the current effective date, the insurer’s NAIC number, the vehicle identification number ( VIN), and the policy number. Photocopies of both required cards are acceptable if the registration is renewed by mail.

(A valid state-issued non-driver ID card, or valid driver’s license from another state are also acceptable forms of identification in lieu of an Alabama driver’s license.)

If the vehicle title bears more than one name – the names of both husband and wife, for example – the person renewing registration must also provide the driver’s license number and expiration date of the spouse (or other party), if he or she is not present. A copy of the driver’s license would be sufficient for that purpose. If the vehicle owner is a company, the federal employer identification number (FEIN) is required.

Why?

The new requirement is an attempt to protect citizens by assuring that all vehicles are covered by liability insurance, a state law long in effect in Alabama, but not yet achieving 100-percent compliance. The uninsured motorist rate in Alabama is estimated at 22 percent, sixth-worst in the nation.

Also beginning Jan. 1, license plate issuing officials will attempt to verify liability insurance utilizing the state Online Insurance Verification System. Vehicle owners must have proof of insurance in case it cannot be verified through the online system.

Penalties

Anyone convicted of a mandatory liability insurance violation may be fined up to $500 for the first vio- lation and up to $1,000 for subsequent violations and/or receive a six-month driver’s license suspension. In addition, if a vehicle is registered or operated without liability insurance, the vehicle registration will be suspended and the owner will be subject to a $200 reinstatement fee for the first violation, or a $400 reinstatement fee and a four-month registration suspension for each subsequent violation.

“I believe the Alabama Mandatory Liability Insurance Law is a good law in that it protects people by requiring everyone to buy liability insurance. This procedure is an effort to fully enforce that law, and it will protect everyone by penalizing those who don’t comply,” said Revenue Commissioner Gregg Armstrong.