Multiple versions of a new proposed bill only need governor’s approval to become law.
The new law, which aims to create an electronic database to help government know which motorists in Alabama have valid auto-insurance policies and those who do not, took another step towards being past on Thursday. The verification system is being punted by state legislators in a bid to make it easier to identify uninsured motorists, and ultimately increase the number of drivers in the state who have acceptable coverage policies.
Alabama has highest levels of uninsured drivers
Statistical research has found the state of Alabama to have one of the highest levels of uninsured drivers in the United States. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that in 2007 an estimated 26 percent of drivers in the state were uninsured, and in 2009 it was slightly reduced to around 22 percent.
By having the database and verification facilities, law enforcement would be better equipped to verify insurance cards, making it very easy for them to differentiate between real and fake insurance cards; a chronic type of insurance fraud.
New law allows police to look in your garage
The law will also bring about quite a big change to the Department of Revenue’s was of dealing with inquiries into the coverage status of the state’s car-driving residents. At the moment they are done randomly, but the new law will allow law enforcement to target those motorists who appear to drive vehicles which are uninsured.
This is good news for the general public, as they no longer have to be inconvenienced by such searches; it only affects those who are suspected of driving uninsured. Those who are approached by the government have 30 days to provide proof of their auto-insurance policy.
The proposed database would also be used in conjunction with the registration of vehicles, combining the process and making insurance registration a necessary part of registering your vehicle. At the moment the law simply requires that motorists admit that they have auto coverage, without any actual proof needed.
The most recent vote came out at 83 to 2 in favor of the proposed bill, after it had been unanimously approved in March by the senate.
There is, however, still some work needed on the finer details of the bill before it reaches the governor’s office. Changes to the bill – mostly to do with legislative language- were made recently when the bill was in the house and now all that is needed is for the committee,e which is made up of representatives from each house, to agree on a single bill to take to the governor to be signed in.
A similar proposal has recently been rejected by the governor of Mississippi: Governor Haley Barbour vetoed the bill because of a lack of consideration for the cost of the changes as well as other logistical complications. Mississippi has an even higher rate of uninsured drivers than Alabama (around 28 percent), making the rejection of the senate-backed-bill a strange decision.
The Alabama proposal is argued to be more legislatively solid, with an advisory council, who would decide the structure of the system, being the biggest difference.