New laws to affect Alabama drivers

A new car insurance law in Alabama will allow more leniency if you are pulled over and caught driving without mandatory liability insurance.

Whenever the calendar changes, it’s a good idea to become aware of new laws that may have taken effect.

A new car insurance law in Alabama, for example, will allow more leniency if you are pulled over and caught driving without mandatory liability insurance. There’s no change for the first offense of a driver unable to provide an officer with proof of coverage within 30 days, resulting in a suspension of vehicle registration. First offense requires a $200 reinstatement feed and proof of insurance. Starting January 1, the state has done away with a mandatory four-month suspension of vehicle registration for second and subsequent violations within a three-year (rather than four) “look-back” period.

In a news release, the Alabama Department of Revenue explained, “The suspension of vehicle registration after the registrant became compliant with the law by providing proof of insurance and paying a $400 reinstatement fee created an undue burden on taxpayers. It prevented compliant taxpayers from driving to work, school, doctor visits, and the like after they became compliant with the law.”

The changes were also made to accommodate deployed military personnel who will not be operating their vehicles, individuals with inoperable vehicles, or individuals who cannot operate their vehicle for medical reasons.

Also in Alabama, the Associated Press is reporting that the state will started collecting fees on owners of electric vehicles. Three-quarters of the revenue from Alabama’s new $200 fee on electric vehicles and $100 fee for plug-in hybrids will go to fund state and local roads and bridges. The other quarter will fund grants for electric charging infrastructure, and will expire once electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles surpass 4% of all vehicles in the state. Other states have enacted similar measures, including California, which accounts for nearly half of all electric vehicle sales in the U.S.

Nationally, according to the website Small Business Trends, the Internal Revenue Service has released standard mileage rates business vehicle use in 2020:

• 57.5 cents per mile of business use (0.5 cents less 2019).

• 17 cents per mile to cover moving or medical purposes (down 3 cents from 2019).

• 14 cents per mile driven for charitable organizations. There is no change here.

The standard mileage rates are critical in providing a method to calculate deductible costs for employees operating a business vehicle, typically documenting travel for reimbursement.

Other changes for the new year:

In neighboring Tennessee, gun owners will find it easier to get permits to carry concealed guns, Jonathan Mattise of AP reports. The law creates a less-expensive permit option that doesn’t require live-fire training and instead allows people to take an online firearms training or safety course. Also in Tennessee, the law now requires doctors to file electronic prescriptions for controlled substances such as opioids as opposed to handwritten prescriptions.

Other states have begun enforcing new laws concerning data privacy, banning single-use plastic bags, allowing citizens to petition a court to take guns away from another person who may be a threat to themselves or others, banning sanctuary cities within their borders, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and increasing minimum wages beyond the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

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