Alabama Car Insurance 101 (Compare Costs and Companies)
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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|Alabama Statistics Summary||Details|
|Miles of Roadway||102,019|
|Number of Vehicles Registered||5,285,305|
|Most Popular Vehicle||Ford F-150|
State Rank: 6
|Total Driving Fatalities||Speeding: 262
|Average Annual Premiums||Liability: $394.21
|Cheapest Providers||State Farm
So you’ve found yourself deep in the Heart of Dixie and wish to learn everything you could possibly want to know about Alabama’s car culture, its laws, and how to find an auto insurance policy that is expertly suited to fit your needs.
If this sounds like you, you have come to the right place because this guide was specifically tailored to educate you on everything you need to know about driving in the Yellowhammer State.
What’s even more exciting is that you can enter your ZIP code above right now to get results before you can even say, “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle!”
Alabama Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
The car insurance landscape is constantly evolving and can be difficult to navigate, especially in the modern age. For example, drivers do not have to choose a local provider in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, or Montgomery (depending upon where you live).
Instead, Alabamians can use one of the country’s bigger providers or choose an external provider so long as they are licensed to sell insurance in the state. While this seems great, it still begs the question, “How do I know that I’m getting the best coverage possible?”
You can simplify the stressful nature of finding auto insurance by taking advantage of this thorough, easy-to-understand guide.
Keep reading for a step-by-step approach covering everything you need to know as it relates to driving in Alabama. And feel free to utilize the table of contents to navigate to the area you wish to learn about.
What is Alabama’s car culture?
Alabama has thousands of miles of picturesque urban and rural roadways. The state also consistently ranks as one of the best in the nation when it comes to gas prices. When you couple these two components together, you can be sure about one thing:
Everyone loves their car in the Heart of Dixie.
Another interesting component that intimately ties Alabama to automobiles is the number of car manufacturers that have moved into the state in recent years. Currently, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota each maintain manufacturing plants here, which contributes a lot of jobs to the state.
These auto manufacturers combine to produce over 1.5 million vehicles a year, making cars the top export of the state. Alabama has a lot of other exports that contribute to the state’s economy, but none of them come close to automobile production.
As Ricky Bobby from the 2006 comedy film Talladega Nights would say, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” And making cars is #1 around here.
How much coverage is required for Alabama minimum coverage?
If you find yourself inspired by Ricky Bobby or one of the non-fictional drivers you’ve seen at the Talladega Superspeedway, you’ll want to start thinking about having car insurance. At the very least, you will need to have the minimum coverage required in order to drive a car legally and avoid the stress of hefty financial penalties or worse.
Drivers in Alabama must meet the state’s minimum liability coverage which includes:
- $25,000 for bodily injury liability per person injured in an accident you cause
- $50,000 for total bodily injury liability when two or more people are injured in an accident you cause
- $25,000 for property damage per accident you cause
According to NOLO, Alabama is one of several states that follow a fault system. This means that whoever is at fault for causing an accident is the one responsible for compensating the other party for the damages.
If you ever found yourself in a situation where you caused an accident, you will want to ensure you at least have the minimum coverage required because claimants have three legal options:
- Filing a claim with his or her own insurance company, assuming that the loss is covered under the policy
- Filing a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver
What are the forms of financial responsibility in Alabama?
The Alabama Department of Revenue states that you must have certain forms that prove financial responsibility. Acceptable forms that confirm you have met the state’s minimum insurance requirements include:
- A physical copy of your insurance card with policy number
- An electronic copy of your insurance policy on a mobile device
- An official letter or letterhead from your insurance agent
What you choose to carry on you between the preceding three options is entirely up to you. But you must have at least one readily available to prove that you are liable for the vehicle you are driving.
How much percentage of income are premiums in Alabama?
|Year||Full Coverage||Disposable Income||Insurance as % of Income|
After taking a look at the three-year trend of insurance premiums as it relates to the percentage of personal income, consistency is the name of the game. Alabama has been hovering right around 2.5 percent, which is slightly above the national average of 2.29 percent.
How does your percentage rate compare?
If you are curious to know, utilize our calculator tool below for an idea of what percentage of your personal income might go to car insurance premiums.
What are the core coverages in Alabama?
Understanding that you have options when it comes to purchasing car insurance is crucial. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a position where you aren’t getting the right type of core coverage you need.
Four of the most popular types of coverage Alabamians tend to gravitate towards are liability, collision comprehensive, and full.
Here’s how much money drivers in the Heart of Dixie are paying on average for each category.
Alabama comes in under the national average for liability, collision, and full coverage but is slightly higher for comprehensive.
What additional liability is available in Alabama?
Meeting the minimum requirements to drive legally is great. But what about exploring additional coverage for a little more protection?
As it turns out, opting to get additional liability insurance is popular among drivers in the state of Alabama because it takes less financial responsibility away from you in the event of an accident.
According to the Alabama Department of Insurance, forms of additional liability include the following:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will pay you and anyone in your car the minimum benefit amount per person for injury regardless of fault.
- Medical Payments or MedPay will pay for medical bills if you are involved in any type of wreck in your car. This includes passengers in the vehicle.
- Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage will cover your expenses in the event that you were hit by a driver who doesn’t carry insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage to take care of the repairs needed on your vehicle.
Let’s say that after reading about the preceding three options that you are interested in exploring additional liability coverage because it sounds like a good idea. You will need to figure out if your provider is adequately suited to provide the type of coverage you need.
One of the ways you can determine if a car insurance provider is in good standing is by examining its loss ratio.
Every insurance provider must disclose its loss ratio, which indicates how much the company spends on claims versus how much they are paid in premiums. For example, if a company spends $68 on claims for every $100 it takes in as premiums, the provider has a loss ratio of 68.
Balancing the ratio is the name of the game, and generally speaking, the sweet spot for a company’s loss ratio is anywhere between 60 to 70.
What add-ons, endorsements, and riders are available in Alabama?
If you want even more protection, insurance providers offer this in the form of add-ons, endorsements, and riders. Examples of these are as follows:
- Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) – This form of insurance is called “GAP” as an acronym for Guaranteed Auto Protection, but it also works quite well as the word “gap” since it covers any breach of what you owe. GAP insurance will cover the difference between what you owe on your car lease or loan and the real-time value of the car at the time of the accident.
- Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP) – For an easy way to add an additional level of protection to your policy, consider a PUP to keep you safe from lawsuits that may result from an accident.
- Rental Reimbursement – If you need a rental car while your personal vehicle is in the shop for repairs, Rental Reimbursement will cover the cost.
- Emergency Roadside Assistance – This add-on will help you if your tire blows out, the engine overheats, or any other number of mishaps occur that leave you stranded on the side of the road.
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance – Any time a mechanical failure occurs that didn’t result from an accident, Mechanical Breakdown Insurance will cover it.
- Non-owner Car Insurance – If you don’t own or lease your own vehicle but still drive on occasion, this add-on will provide you with limited liability coverage.
- Modified Car Insurance Coverage – There are plenty of cars on the road that have been modified, and if you are the type that likes to customize your ride, this policy will cover the cost of those modifications in the event of an accident.
- Collector Car Insurance – Vintage cars are special, and that’s why this additional form of insurance is a good idea to consider if you drive a classic car.
- Pay-as-You-Drive, aka Usage-Based Insurance – A lot of drivers have switched over to usage-based coverage and pay per mile or how often you drive. This is a good option for people who don’t drive as often and are curious about saving money on their policy.
Everybody has certain preferences, which is why insurance providers provide so many options for customers to choose from. If you are interested in any of the preceding add-ons and endorsements, make sure to keep that in mind when shopping around for a provider.
Does gender and age affect my car insurance in Alabama?
Demographics play a factor in how much you will pay for car insurance. Take a look at the following table to see what people are paying on an annual basis if depending upon if they are male or female.
|Company||Single 17-year-old Female||Single 17-year-old Male||Single 25-year-old Female||Single 25-year-old Male||Married 35-year-old Female||Married 35-year-old Male||Married 60-year-old Female||Married 60-year-old Male|
|Travelers Home & Marine||$8,037.20||$12,641.31||$1,422.13||$1,631.77||$1,501.32||$1,524.86||$1,407.98||$1,403.64|
As you could see from the data, marital status, age, and gender all correspond with varying insurance rates. Demographics play such a big factor that a little quick math will tell you that single 17-year-old males pay $6,933.77 more than married 60-year-old females on average.
The biggest takeaway from examining this data is that you will ultimately pay less as you age or get married.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are strictly averages from some of the state’s largest providers. It is certainly possible that a younger single male can have a lower rate. And an older married female can pay higher than the average depending upon the individual’s driving record.
What are the cheapest rates by ZIP code in Alabama?
Where you live in the state is another determining factor as it relates to how much you will pay for auto insurance.
Rates change from city to city or even between different ZIP codes within the same municipality.
For that reason, we’ve compiled car insurance rates by ZIP code in the following two tables. The first table outlines the top 25 most expensive ZIP codes while the second table features the bottom 25 most affordable ZIP codes. If you don’t see yours, that means you fall somewhere in between.
|ZIP Code||City||Average||Allstate||Mid-Century||Geico||Safeco||Nationwide||Progressive||State Farm||Travelers||USAA|
|ZIP Code||City||Average||Allstate||Mid-Century||Geico||Safeco||Nationwide||Progressive||State Farm||Travelers||USAA|
If you live in the 35218 neighborhood of Birmingham, we are sorry to say that you are paying the highest on in the state with an average rate of $4,428.60. Our friends in the 36360 section of Ozark, however, are paying the least at an average of $3,310.05.
What are the cheapest rates by city in Alabama?
If you’ve ever wondered which city in Alabama has the cheapest car insurance, this is the section for you. Some states follow a general trend where you typically pay more for things like auto insurance in larger cities, but Alabama is not that predictable. So we are left to wonder:
Which cities in Alabama have the cheapest auto insurance rates?
Take a look at the following two tables to see so for yourself. These are broken up into the top 25 most expensive cities and the 25 least expensive cities. Some of the data might surprise you.
|City||Average Grand Total|
|Bayou La Batre||$4,140.91|
|City||Average Grand Total|
One look through the table will tell you that a general rule of thumb is that bigger cities don’t necessarily pay higher rates in Alabama. The state’s biggest cities are Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile, but they are all more affordable than smaller towns like Dolomite, Saint Elmo, and Fairfield.
Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.
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Best Alabama Car Insurance Companies
When shopping for car insurance in Alabama, it’s no secret that you will want to have the state’s most credible providers on your radar. Even if you’re already covered, it’s always a good idea to see how your provider stacks up against the competition.
In the following section, you will learn everything you need to know about the best car insurance providers in the Heart of Dixie.
We have compiled data that outlines the state’s largest insurance providers, those who have the best ratings, and the ones who have the most complaints. We will also cover details about rates so you can get a firm understanding of what you can expect to pay.
What are the financial ratings of the largest car insurance companies in Alabama?
There’s a global credit agency based out of the United States called AM Best. They are responsible for evaluating companies in the insurance industry and grading them with a financial rating. These grades are similar to an academic scale, starting at D as a poor rating and scale up to A+ or A++ as a superior rating.
Auto insurance providers with superior financial ratings are often seen as more favorable to customers because they have a stronger future outlook.
When determining who your next insurance provider will be, it is a good idea to consider their financial rating. Here’s how AM Best graded the largest providers in the state of Alabama.
|Company||Financial Rating||Direct Premiums Written||Loss Ratio||Market Share|
Which car insurance companies have the best ratings in Alabama?
In today’s world, shoppers are interested in what current customers have to say about the company or service they are interested in.
For example, a couple who is interested in going out to a nice restaurant for date night will consider its Yelp reviews. If the restaurant received positive feedback from its diners, the couple is more inclined to go there for dinner.
J.D. Power functions in a similar way because their ratings are determined by independent consumer surveys.
In the world of auto insurance, J.D. Power collects service quality and customer satisfaction information from several providers. The following table will show you companies with the best ratings in the state of Alabama.
|Company||Rating||JDPower.com Power Circle Rating|
|Farm Bureau||888||5 Stars|
|Liberty Mutual||809||2 Stars|
|National General||820||2 Stars|
|NC Farm Bureau||855||4 Stars|
|State Farm||853||4 Stars|
USAA comes with an asterisk and was put at the bottom of the list because you have to meet certain military requirements to be eligible.
Which car insurance companies have the most complaints in Alabama?
Some car insurance shoppers make it a point to know about the negative things customers have to say about insurance providers. Even if you’re a “glass half full” type of person, it’s helpful to know about the complaints people have against insurance providers.
The following table contains data collected from the NAIC that reflect the complaint ratio of some of Alabama’s most popular providers.
As you can see from the data, these ratings are a little scattered. This is due largely because individual providers deal with complaints in different ways. The result shows companies with higher complaint ratios and some that report zero.
When in doubt, take a look at the number of customers a provider has and how many of them seem unhappy with the service to know when to steer clear.
What are the cheapest car insurance companies in Alabama?
When thinking about auto coverage, you don’t want to end up paying more than you have to. Some people subscribe to the philosophy of “you get what you pay for.” And while that may be true in a lot of cases, there are still budget-friendly insurance options that will be there for you when you need it.
The following companies are the cheapest options you can find in the state of Alabama.
|Company||Average||Compared to State Average (Rate)||Compared to State Average (%)|
Does my commute affect my car insurance rate in Alabama?
Insurance providers are interested in how often you drive for your daily commute because it helps them determine your rate. If you are on the road less, the chances of you getting in an accident are not as great. If you drive further or more often for work, you are more likely to get involved in a fender bender or worse (but hopefully not).
The following table shows what providers charge in Alabama based on how often you drive.
|Company||10-mile Commute, 6000 Annual Mileage||25-mile Commute, 12000 Annual Mileage|
As you can see from the results, providers stay mostly consistent with rates, regardless of how far you have to drive for work. Even if your commute is a bit longer, the difference you have to pay is minimal.
Can coverage level change my car insurance rate with companies in Alabama?
When thinking about the level of coverage you want to get, the top companies have different rates available. The following table breaks out these rates from the lowest available coverage to the highest.
|Company||Low Coverage||Medium Coverage||High Coverage|
Liberty Mutual is the most expensive provider with its cheapest option breaking the $5,000 mark. To put that into perspective, State Farm is the only other company to charge that much, and it’s only with their most expensive option.
Alabamians pay $3,703.75 on average, so that’s one thing to consider while examining these rates.
How does my credit history affect my car insurance rate with companies in Alabama?
Have you checked your credit score recently? If you are shopping for car insurance, it’s a wise idea to do so.
Insurance providers in Alabama will take your score into account, and it will be a determining factor in your car insurance rate.
The following table provides examples of what Alabamians are paying based on good, fair, or poor credit. Keep in mind that this is general data, and rates vary on an individual basis.
|Company||Good Credit||Fair Credit||Poor Credit|
State Farm’s rates vary the most from good to poor credit, so you can see that it is vitally important to know your credit history if you are interested in using them. The companies that don’t seem to change their rates too much based on credit score are Geico, Farmers, and Nationwide.
How does my driving record change my rates with car insurance companies in Alabama?
Auto insurance providers are interested in your driving record to make a decision as to whether or not they will cover you, and how much they will charge. They look at factors like how many tickets you have and the seriousness of the offense.
In short, the type of driver you are will make a direct impact on how much you pay for car insurance in Alabama.
Here’s how the state’s biggest providers vary their car insurance rates from a driver with a clean report to one who has a DUI on their record.
|Group||Clean Record||One Accident||One Speeding Ticket||One DUI|
Which car insurance companies are the largest in Alabama?
The top ten providers in the state are always fighting to earn more customers and, in turn, receive a higher market share. Here’s how those percentages are broken up in the state of Alabama.
State Farm accounts for roughly a quarter of the entire state’s auto insurance providers at 25.21 percent.
The next biggest providers are Alfa, Allstate, and Geico, but none of them have nearly as big of a piece of the pie.
Nationwide, Amtrust, Liberty, and Farmers vary on the low end of the market share with values at under three percent each. While this may seem minuscule in comparison to the others, it’s still enough to earn a spot on the top ten list.
How many car insurance companies are available in Alabama?
Alabama has a total population of 4,903,185 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those nearly five million Alabamians, there are 18 insurance providers domestic to the state with an additional 858 foreign entities that you can choose to utilize as your provider.
To put that into perspective, there is one provider for every 5,597 people in the state of Alabama.
This ratio will fluctuate depending upon the state’s population and the number of new foreign providers that get licensed to sell insurance in the Heart of Dixie. Nonetheless, it gives you an idea as to how many options are available to the state’s residents.
Alabama is home to bustling metropolitan areas like Birmingham and scenic agricultural landscapes like the Talladega National Forest. This contrast between urban epicenters and rural countrysides is a point of pride here, and a big reason why people choose to live in the state.
While different parts of the state will offer a unique impression from city to city, everyone must follow the state laws of Alabama.
In this section, we will cover everything you need to know regarding the laws in Alabama as it pertains to car insurance, vehicle licensing, rules of the road, and safety. Buckle up because we have a lot to go over. Not to mention it is required by law that you wear a safety belt when you drive.
What are the car insurance laws in Alabama?
Every state has laws in place when it comes to car insurance, and Alabama is no exception. This is the state government’s way of ensuring that everybody who uses the roads has some form of coverage in the event that an accident occurs.
One of the ways Alabama enforces this policy is through the Mandatory Liability Insurance (MLI) law, which requires that every driver meet the minimum coverage requirements as determined by the state.
How State Laws for Insurance Are Determined
If you are wondering how the state government determined why the laws for insurance are set up this way, it’s because Alabama uses a traditional legislative process.
Through years of witnessing several scenarios play out, legislators have come together time and time again to set a system of laws in place which are designed to protect everyone who drives on the roads of Alabama.
Laws regarding auto insurance in the Heart of Dixie are subject to change over time. For now, the most updated information is contained right here, so you won’t have to reference anything else in order to be up to speed on Alabama’s insurance laws.
You can’t drive safely if you are unable to see out of your windshield clearly. That’s why it is mandatory that your vehicle’s windshield is void of any cracks or anything else that may constrain your ability to see the road clearly.
If your windshield does become damaged, Alabama insurance law requires the driver to use replacement parts of like kind and quality. The repair must also restore the vehicle to its value before the loss.
Between inclement weather and flying debris on country highways, windshield cracks can be a common occurrence. If it does happen, be sure to get it fixed up to the standards of the state sooner rather than later to avoid a citation.
Since everybody who drives is required to have auto insurance in Alabama, you might be wondering what the process looks like for drivers who have very poor credit or a number of black marks on their driving record.
These types of drivers are considered to be high-risk by insurance companies, and often pay higher premiums as a result.
Some of the determining factors that might make you a high-risk driver in the eyes of insurers include:
- First-time drivers and young drivers
- Speeding violations
- DUI violations
- History of poor credit
- One or more accidents
Even if you are determined to be a high-risk driver, it is only a temporary status. Typically your rates will start to go back down three years after a citation or from the time your credit score has improved.
What about drivers who need a low-cost insurance option?
One dilemma that plagues a lot of Americans is being required to drive to a job that doesn’t pay a high wage. It’s a catch-22 because they have to make car payments, spend money on gas, and then pay for auto insurance to drive legally.
Unfortunately, Alabama does not have an officially licensed program that funds auto insurance for low-income households. But there are still plenty of affordable options if you know where to look (and we can help you with that if you follow that link).
Automobile Insurance Fraud in Alabama
Chances are that you probably heard of insurance fraud before. In case you haven’t or need a quick refresher, insurance fraud is a deliberate act committed by an individual or business against an insurance provider for financial gain.
Examples of automobile insurance fraud include making false claims, misrepresenting facts, and staging an accident, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Committing automobile insurance fraud is a serious crime in the Heart of Dixie.
In fact, a state law that was introduced in 2013 makes insurance fraud a felony if the potential loss exceeds $1000, and the accused can face 20 years in prison if found guilty. If the loss is less than $1000, it is considered a Class C felony that carries a max penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Statute of Limitations
In order to make the judicial system work as proficiently as possible, action must be taken within a certain timeframe if a case is to be heard. If too many weeks or months have passed before the prosecuting party made a legal motion, the case will not be heard. This is due to a law called the statute of limitations.
In Alabama, you have a total of two years to file a motion for either a personal injury or property damage case before the potential lawsuit exceeds the statute of limitations.
Every state in the country has a deadline that must be met if you want to file a claim. Alabama’s is shorter than most, so it’s a wise idea to act quickly if you find yourself dealing with a personal injury or property damage claim.
There are plenty of laws that every American follows, such as driving on the right side of the road. But there are also a number of laws that are specific to Alabama alone. In fact, there’s a whole library dedicated to Alabama law in the capital of Montgomery.
If you don’t live near the capital or simply don’t wish to spend hours sifting through dense books that are ripe with legal jargon, we don’t blame you. Instead, you can feel free to reference the Code of Alabama 1975 to educate yourself on anything there is to know about staying legal in the Yellowhammer State.
What are the vehicle licensing laws in Alabama?
Simply put, vehicle licensing laws are concerned with linking your eligibility to drive with your insurance and vehicle. These vary from state to state, but in this section we are going to focus on how the following topics are handled in Alabama:
- REAL ID/STAR ID compliance
- Consequences for driving without insurance
- Teenage drivers
- Older driver’s license renewal procedures
- Residents new to the state of Alabama
- License renewal procedures
Keep scrolling to stay abreast of the state’s most recent vehicle licensing laws.
REAL ID/STAR ID
Many states have adopted new identification cards that are compliant with the REAL ID Act.
Alabama is taking part in this new trend that helps national security through the issuance of state IDs that are more authentic. However, they are called STAR (Secure, Trusted, And Reliable) IDs in the Heart of Dixie.
As mentioned in the brief local news segment video, Alabamians have until October 2020 to obtain an Alabama STAR ID. Once acquired, they make life a lot easier, especially when traveling in airports.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
So what happens if you get caught driving without insurance in the Yellowhammer State?
First-time offenders will get sacked with a fine up to $500 and must also pay a $200 reinstatement fee. Second-time offenders will have to pay up to $1000 in fines and/or get their license suspended for six months. Their registration will be suspended for a minimum of four months, and they must pay a $400 reinstatement fee.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, there’s a new law that was put into effect in January of 2020 that might give drivers a break depending upon the circumstances. The new law is explained in the following video:
With all things related to the law, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So it’s best not to get caught driving without insurance if you want to play it safe.
Teen Driver Laws
Teenage drivers have to pass through two different stages of driving before they can be considered an unrestricted motorist in the state of Alabama, according to the IIHS.
The first is called the “Learner Stage,” where a driver must be at least 15 years old and only operate a vehicle with a parent, guardian, grandparent, or driving instructor for a period of six months. Once the new driver reaches age 16, their learner’s permit is valid so long as they are operating the car with a licensed driver who is at least 21.
The driver must acquire a total of 50 hours minimum of supervised driving while they have their learner’s permit.
Once a teenager has moved onto the “Intermediate Stage,” they are allowed to drive unsupervised but cannot do so between the hours of midnight to 6 a.m. and cannot carry more than one passenger. The teen’s driving privileges become unrestricted once they reach the age of 17 and have held a license for six months.
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
Alabamians are required to renew their driver’s licenses every four years, according to the IIHS. And they can skip out on making a trip in person by doing so online every other renewal period.
Proof of adequate vision is not required in order to renew your license successfully, regardless of your age.
Alabama sees a lot of action courtesy of stock car racing and college football culture. The state is also home to a serene coastline that provides everything you need for a quiet, relaxing weekend getaway.
With so much fun and beauty to be had in the Heart of Dixie, it’s no wonder why newcomers move into the state. According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), new residents can transfer their out-of-state IDs and get registered in Alabama with the following information and documents:
- Must be at an ALEA Office
- Out-of-state driver license
- Social Security card
- One item from a primary list provided by the ALEA in addition to the Social Security card
- Proof of school enrollment or graduation (if younger than 19)
- Two proofs of principal residence
- $5 transfer fee (no checks)
- $36.25 to purchase a license (no checks)
License Renewal Procedures
Renewing your license in the state of Alabama is a fairly straightforward process. According to the AAA Digest of Motor Laws, the following points are considered:
- Residents will receive a notice in the mail 30 days after the expiration date if not yet renewed.
- There is a grace period of 60 days granted after the expiration of the license for the purpose of renewal.
- Renewal of license may occur from 60 days (effective August 1, 2016, 180 days) prior to expiration to three years after date; afterward, the applicant is required to take and pass a written examination.
If you want to avoid any hassle, renew your ID once you receive your notice from the Motor Vehicle Department.
Negligent Driving in Alabama
Alabama embraces a point system to discourage drivers from acting recklessly behind the wheel. A driver can be cited by a police officer for negligent driving for actions such as speeding, blowing through a stop sign, and operating a vehicle while under the influence.
If a driver accrues enough points, they risk having their license suspended for a certain period of time.
According to the ALEA, the suspension period for amassing 12 to 14 points within a two-year period will net a suspension of 60 days. The other suspension periods are as follows:
- 15–17 points in a two-year period – 90 days
- 18–20 points in a two-year period – 120 days
- 21–23 points in a two-year period – 180 days
- 24 and above points in a two-year period – 365 days
These citations will always remain on an Alabamian’s driving record, but the points will reset two years after the date of the initial incident.
What are the rules of the road in Alabama?
Too often, we take the rules of the road for granted because we think that we know them all. But what happens when everybody thinks they’re an expert? You get things like everybody trying to go through a four-way stop sign intersection at the same time and receive tickets for traffic violations you didn’t know existed.
In order to prevent any unfortunate situations, educate yourself on Alabama’s rules of the road in the following section.
Fault Versus No-fault
Like many other states, Alabama follows a fault system, according to the law experts at NOLO.com.
Since Alabama is considered an “at fault” state, the person responsible for causing any injuries or damage will be held financially responsible.
An individual who was involved in a car accident and wishes to make a claim can follow these legal options:
- File a claim with your insurance company, assuming that the loss is covered under the policy
- File a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier
- File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver
Every state has a different philosophy regarding fault versus no-fault, but Alabama legislators believe it makes the most sense to have these situations remedied by whoever is deemed responsible for the accident.
Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws
You must wear a seat belt if you are the driver or a passenger who is 15 years or older in any seat within the vehicle.
First offense fines cost $25 with additional fees possible. Another interesting point about the seat belt law in Alabama is that passengers may ride in an unenclosed pickup truck if they’d like, a rule that is not followed in every state, according to the IIHS.
Safety of younger passengers is of paramount importance, which is why Alabama has the following law in place for toddlers and children.
Children ages 6–14 may wear an adult seatbelt, and the law states that there is no preference for which seat the child may occupy. Therefore, it is lawful for these young passengers to sit in the front seat.
However, a younger passenger must be in a rear-facing child seat if they are younger than one or less than 20 pounds. If the child is 1–4 years old or weighs 20–40 pounds, they must be in a forward-facing child restraint. Kids 5 or 6 years old must be in a booster seat.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
In order to ensure a safe flow of traffic on the roads of Alabama, state law 32-5A-80 declares that you must keep right if driving slower than the average speed of traffic around you.
Drivers are encouraged to pass on the left, but certain exceptions to pass on the right are allowed.
When approaching a stationary emergency vehicle that is displaying flashing lights, drivers must vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to at least 15 mph less than the posted speed limit, according to the AAA Digest of Motor Laws.
Now that you know about how the flow of traffic works in the Yellowhammer State, you might be curious to know what the speed limits are on certain roads and highways. Take a look for yourself by reviewing the following table.
|Roadway Type||Speed Limit (mph)|
|Limited Access Roads||65|
Although it may have taken some time to get here, the ridesharing industry has transformed the way Alabamians get around the state’s biggest cities.
Alabama has become the 45th state to pass rideshare legislation, so companies like Uber and Lyft are allowed to legally operate in the state’s urban epicenters of Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa.
Drivers who are interested in working for these companies must carry a specific rideshare insurance policy from Farmers, Geico, State Farm, or USAA.
Automation on the Road
With each day that passes, self-driving (or autonomous) vehicles are making more significant progress. A lot of people have strong feelings about the idea of a future with fully automatic vehicles taking the place of human drivers. After all, we love our cars in the Heart of Dixie.
But the fact remains that the growth of autonomous cars is inevitable, which is why the state of Alabama has the following laws in places regarding automation on the state’s roads.
|Does Alabama allow autonomous vehicles on public roads?||Yes|
|What types of autonomous vehicles are allowed?||Commercial motor vehicles|
|Does the operator have to be licensed?||No|
|Does the law require an operator to be present in the vehicle?||No|
|Is liability insurance required?||Yes; $2,000,000|
What are the safety laws in Alabama?
The average car weighs over four tons, and we’ve already covered that it’s legal to travel at speeds of up to 70 mph. That’s a lot of weight moving very fast, which can be a recipe for disaster if there aren’t certain rules set in place.
That is why drivers must all follow the state safety laws of Alabama or be forced to pay the legal consequences.
In this section, we will cover the laws concerning driving under the influence of controlled substances, and we will also take a look at what the state considers to be distracted driving.
We’d like to think that every motorist on the road is legally sober, but the reality is there are a number of drivers who proceed to get behind the wheel after a few drinks. This is a major cause of fatal car accidents. In fact, Alabama saw a total of 268 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2017.
The state determines that a driver is impaired if they have a BAC level of .08 or higher. If a driver is above the legal limit and gets pulled over for a traffic stop, they can face the following legal ramifications.
|Category||First Offense||Second Offense||Third Offense||Fourth Offense|
|ALS or Revocation||ALS – mandatory 90 days||One year||Three years||Five years|
|Imprisonment||Up to one year in municipal or county jail (no minimum)||48 consecutive hours, up to one year, or not less than 20 days of community service||60 days to one year in municipal or county jail||One to 10 years|
|Fines||$500–$2000 + $100 for Impaired Drivers Trust Fund||$1000–$5000 + $100 for Impaired Drivers Trust Fund||$2000–$10,000 + $100 for Impaired Drivers Trust Fund||$4000–$10,000|
|Other||Mandatory DUI school||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Marijuana-impaired Driving Laws
Alabama does not recognize marijuana to be legal in any capacity (medicinal or recreational). Therefore, the state does not have any marijuana-specific driving laws.
But that doesn’t mean you are allowed to drive while under the influence of cannabis because there isn’t a set state law in place.
According to responsibility.org, Alabama requires law enforcement to prove that the driver is impaired at the time of the traffic stop. Successful prosecution depends on documented behavioral evidence and recent drug use.
Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like. Any time the driver’s focus is taken away from the road, law enforcement can determine that they were distracted and, therefore, not acting responsibly behind the wheel.
The most common forms of distracted driving include texting or holding your phone, eating or drinking, applying makeup or personal care products, and fiddling with the car’s stereo or navigation system.
In order to keep everybody on the road safe, Alabama has the following distracted driving laws in place to discourage this type of behavior from drivers:
- Texting while driving is prohibited
- There is no handheld ban for adult drivers
- Drivers aged 16 and 17 with intermediate licenses for less than six months are prohibited from using a handheld device
The first two points may seem at odds with each other, but they really aren’t. For example, you can technically be holding a cellphone in your hand without texting. This no handheld ban also allows for more wiggle room when holding other devices while driving.
Driving in Alabama
Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when our beloved lead character is in high school, and the bullies graduated from bikes to a car to chase him down? If not, we’ve got the 50-second clip cued up right here to serve as a reminder of what not to do while driving in Alabama.
We can’t even begin to count the number of no-nos exhibited by this gang of misfits. Standing up in the bed of a pickup, not wearing seatbelts, and worst of all — chasing Tom Hanks.
All levity aside, this next section will inform you about what it’s like to drive in the Heart of Dixie with details relating to the important topics of vehicle theft and road fatalities. Knowing this information can help keep you safe.
How many vehicle thefts occur in Alabama?
Unfortunately, vehicle theft is a part of the society we live in today. Car thieves always seem to find a way to get into someone’s personal vehicle no matter how much security has improved over the years.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the most popular vehicle to steal in Alabama was a 2004 Chevrolet full-size pickup. For a complete look at the top ten model vehicles that were stolen in the state, take a look at the following table.
|Year/Make/Model||Number of Thefts|
|2004 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||623|
|2005 Ford Pickup (Full Size)||457|
|1996 Honda Accord||251|
|2016 Toyota Camry||249|
|2006 Nissan Altima||203|
|2005 Chevrolet Impala||200|
|2001 Dodge Pickup (Full Size)||165|
|1999 GMC Pickup (Full Size)||156|
|2002 Ford Mustang||125|
When it comes to cities that see the most vehicles stolen, Montgomery saw the most at a clip of 1,259. Huntsville is next on the list with 1,029 as these are the only two Alabama cities that saw more than 1,000 vehicles stolen.
Consult the following interactive table for a full list of vehicle thefts by city in Alabama.
|Bayou La Batre||2,499||27|
How many road fatalities occur in Alabama?
Alabama continues to rank above the national average for road fatalities. In fact, a traffic crash was reported every 200 seconds in 2017, which led to an injury every 11 minutes.
Chances are greater than one-in-three for an Alabama driver to be involved with a crash that results in injury or death, according to the Strategic Highway Safety Plan.
While these statistics can seem alarming, you can educate yourself on the dangers of driving in the Yellowhammer State. All you need to know is outlined in this section. Keep reading to stay safe and avoid adding to these grim statistics.
Most Fatal Highway in Alabama
The road that sees the most traffic fatalities in Alabama is Interstate 65. This may come as no surprise since it runs right through the center of the state, connecting drivers from the Decatur-Huntsville area on the north end of the state all the way down to Mobile on the south end.
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition
Driving conditions play a direct role in traffic accidents. The following table will show you how weather and light conditions have contributed to fatal crashes in the Heart of Dixie.
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other / Unknown||Total|
This data will tell you that over half of all fatal traffic accidents occur outside of daylight when visibility is poor. Since rainfall is minimal in Alabama, there aren’t nearly as many fatal accidents that happen compared to when the weather is favorable.
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County
Alabama’s more populated counties see the most fatal car accidents. We’ve outlined the data by the numbers in the following table so you can see for yourself.
|County||2014 Fatalities||2015 Fatalities||2016 Fatlaities||2017 Fatalities||2018 Fatalities|
|Top Ten Counties||361||368||456||380||426|
|All Other Counties||459||482||627||568||527|
Jefferson County and Mobile County consistently rank at the top of the list, but there is some fluctuation between the other eight counties.
We’ve compiled a general overview of traffic fatalities in the state of Alabama to give you a high-level overview of what these statistics look like. This data comes directly from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
|Type||Number of Fatalities|
|Total Traffic Fatalities||953|
|Passenger Vehicle Occupant Fatalities (All Seat Positions)||716|
|Alcohol-impaired Driving Fatalities||246|
|Bicyclist and other Cyclist Fatalities||9|
Fatalities by Person Type
If you are curious to know a breakdown of the demographics of traffic fatalities in Alabama, data from the NHTSA reports the following.
|Person Type By Race/Hispanic Origin||Number of Fatalities|
|American Indian, Non-Hispanic/Unknown||5|
|Multiple Races, Non-Hispanic/Unknown||0|
|All Other Non-Hispanic or Race||6|
|Unknown Race and Unknown Hispanic||20|
Fatalities by Crash Type
Fatality numbers also differ depending on what types of vehicles were involved and what caused the accident. For example, accidents involving a roadway departure is the most common form of a fatal crash in the state. The following table provides a full breakdown of fatalities by crash type.
|Total Fatalities (All Crashes)||953|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||553|
|Involving a Rollover||257|
|Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)||168|
|Involving a Large Truck||122|
Five-year Trend for the Top 10 Counties
The NHTSA also gave us insight into the five-year trend for fatalities per 100,000 residents. The following table displays this data in a ratio format, and it’s organized by county.
|Top Ten Counties||55.51||48.76||55.57||65.67||57.07|
|All Other Counties||15.6||16.09||20.57||18.17||18.42|
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
Another quote from fictional stock car race driver Ricky Bobby is, “I want to go fast!”
While tapping into the thrillseeker within can seem fun, the reality is that Alabama sees plenty of fatalities involving speeding. Take a look for yourself the next time you feel like putting the pedal to the metal.
|County||Number of Fatalities|
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-impaired Driver by County
State law defines driving under the influence of alcohol as with a BAC level of .08 or greater. Alcohol-impaired drivers cause a number of deaths every year in the Yellowhammer State. Here’s a breakdown of how many per county.
|County||Number of Fatalities|
Teen Drinking and Driving
Sadly, young drivers make up a portion of the road fatality statistics we have covered in this section. The national average for teenagers who were involved in a drinking and driving accident is 1.2 deaths per 100,000 population, according to responsibility.org.
Alabama teenagers rank above the national average when it comes to drinking and driving fatalities at a rate of 2.7 per 100,000 population.
Since Alabama has some of the worst statistics in the country, it’s a wise idea to educate young drivers about the dangers of drinking underage and getting behind the wheel.
EMS Response Time
Emergency Medical Service (EMS) vehicles include ambulances, fire trucks, etc. The paramedics and medical professionals who answer calls of distress work tirelessly to limit the number of deaths seen on Alabama roads.
The following table contains data collected from the NHTSA that shows just how quickly these brave responders are able to arrive on the scene.
|Setting of Crash||Time of Crash to EMS Notification||EMS Notification to|
|EMS Arrival at Scene|
to Hospital Arrival
|Time of Crash to Hospital
What is transportation like in Alabama?
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned how everybody seems to love their car in the Heart of Dixie. But with so many people falling in love with the hobby of driving, that leads to questions like, “How many car owners are there in the state?” and “What’s the traffic like?”
We want to answer those questions in a clear format, so that’s why this final section will cover:
- Car Ownership
- Commute Time
- Commuter Transportation
- Traffic Congestion
Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about transportation in Alabama.
According to a report from Data USA, the average household in Alabama owns two cars, which is right on pace with the national average. That makes up 39.4 percent of all Alabamians.
Three-car households make up 24.5 of the state while just over 20 percent have either one vehicle or none.
Getting to work is important because you have to pay those bills and have some sort of livelihood, right? Similar to other states, one of the most common ways Alabamians get to work is by driving, and it takes them 24.3 minutes to get there on average.
If there’s anyone to blame for beefing up those numbers, it’s those who have “super commutes” of over 90 minutes. In Alabama, this is only 2.03 percent of the workforce.
Data USA also reported that the most common method of travel for workers in Alabama was driving alone at 86.3 percent. The next most common form of commuter transportation is to carpool, which is 7.87 percent of people in the state. Finally, 3.45 percent of Alabamians work at home.
Traffic Congestion in Alabama
In total, Alabama drivers collectively lose about $1.5 billion each year as a result of wasted time and fuel. The following table shows data collected from TRIP, a national nonprofit research organization that provides information related to all things related to transportation in the United States.
This will tell you more about how much time commuters spend in traffic in Alabama’s five biggest cities and how much it is costing these drivers each year.
|City||Hours Lost In Congestion||Cost of Congestion Per Driver|
Now that you’ve learned just about everything there is to know about Alabama’s car culture, you might be clamoring to get behind the wheel. But before you do that we’d like to know:
Is there anything we covered that you found especially helpful or wish to see expanded?
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