Nothing is worse than receiving a traffic citation for something that you didn’t know was a violation of the law. Some lucky citizens may get off with a warning in these instances; however, for the vast majority, we will receive a citation and chalk it up to a lesson learned. In this article, you will find some new laws and proposed legislation affecting drivers in Alabama.
New driving laws are rarely, if ever, publicized in a manner that would alert the average citizen to the changes. So, if you’re traveling in the State of Alabama, be aware of some newly enacted laws, as well as proposed legislation that is being considered.
For your information, Alabama’s driving laws (statutes) can be found in Title 32 of the Code of Alabama. There is certainly a lot of information here, but a quick read could save you from the high cost of receiving a traffic citation.
Changes to Existing Law
Though it did not receive a lot of media attention when it was enacted in 2016, there is a new law1 in Alabama allowing an officer to issue a citation to a driver at the scene of a car wreck for traffic offenses that are reasonably believed to have been committed based on the officer’s personal investigation of the car wreck.2 For example, if an officer deems that the cause of a car wreck was due to the at-fault driver’s failure to yield at a stop sign, then the officer could issue a citation to that driver, even though the officer did not witness the offense first hand.
Prior to this newly enacted law, officers could only issue citations at the scene of a car wreck to drivers for driving under the influence; no insurance; and leaving the scene of an accident.3 In the past, officers rarely issue citations to at-fault drivers; however, in the coming years, this practice may become more frequent, so beware!
Currently, there are two bills awaiting a vote by the Alabama Legislature effecting driving laws in the State of Alabama. First, House Bill 218 would amend Section 32-5A-80 of the Code of Alabama and require vehicles traveling on the interstate to use the right lane unless passing another vehicle. Specifically, if enacted into law, a vehicle could not travel in the left lane of the interstate for more than 1.5 miles without passing another vehicle.4
If enacted into law, this may be a hard law to supervise, unless a patrol officer followed you for 1.5 miles in the left lane of the interstate. Otherwise, determining if someone violated this proposed law would be difficult, to say the least.
Another proposed law involved seat belts. Seat belts save lives and failure to wear one is an unnecessary risk that could lead to serious injury or death should you be involved in a car accident. House Bill 93 would amend Section 32-5B-4 of the Code of Alabama and require all occupants in a vehicle to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion.5 Under current law, only front occupants, i.e. driver and front passenger, of a vehicle are required to wear a seat belt.6 If the new law is enacted, everyone in the vehicle would be required to wear a seat belt.
If enacted and if a police officer were to catch you and three of your friends cruising around town without wearing seat belts, then a fun day with friends could quickly turn into a costly lesson for everyone involved. If not enacted during this legislative session, it’s still likely that this will become law within the next few years.
For more information regarding the status of these proposed laws please visit www.legislature.state.al.us. Remember to always obey your county and state traffic laws, and practice safe driving. If you are injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, contact the attorneys at Morris Bart today. You can fill out the free case evaluation form, Live Chat with us, or call us at 800-537-8185. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We have office across the state of Alabama, including Mobile, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville.
1Ala. Code § 32-5-171(b)
6Ala. Code § 32-5B-4