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  • Safety Laws in Alabama

    Introduction

    Alabama's Department of Public Safety (DPS) has several laws in place to help keep you safe on the road. These laws cover various important areas such as child car seats and safety belts, headlights and helmets, cell phone usage, DUIs, and boating safety.

    Child Car Seat Laws in Alabama

    Alabama law requires children of certain ages and sizes to be seated in appropriate child car seats. Failure to do so can result in a fine of $25. Use the following guide from the Alabama Department of Public Safety when buying a child car seat.

    • Up to 1 year old or 20 pounds: A rear-facing, infant-only or convertible seat.
    • 1 year old5 years old or 40 pounds: A forward-facing car seat.
    • 5 years old6 years old: A booster seat.

    Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s weight and age specifications and recommendations when using a child car seat.

    For more information about child car seats, visit our page on How to Buy a Child Safety Seat.

    Alabama Seat Belt Laws and Fines

    If you are in the front seat of a running vehicle, you must wear a safety belt or risk a fine of up to $25 from the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS). If you are seated in the back seat you are NOT required to wear a seat belt unless you are under 15 years old.

    Looking for a convenient way to pay your traffic ticket? Several Alabama courts allow you to pay your ticket online.

    Cell Phone Use in Alabama

    In Alabama, if you are 16 or 17 years old and have only held your license for under 6 months, it is illegal for you to use your cell phone or mobile device at any time while driving.

    Regardless of your age, it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving to send or receive:

    • Text messages.
    • Instant messages.
    • E-mails.

    You risk assorted fines and penalties for breaking any of these laws, some of which can be found under Title 32 of the Alabama legislature’s state code.

    While Alabama law does not restrict you from making a phone call while driving, the Alabama Department of Public Safety suggests you practice caution when doing so. Follow these tips if you must make or receive a call while driving:

    • Safely pull off the road.
    • Use hands-free devices.
    • Do not engage in emotionally heated conversations.

    Helmet Laws in Alabama

    Motorcycle Helmet Laws

    If you are riding a motorcycle in Alabama, either as a driver or passenger, you must wear protective headgear.

    Your motorcycle helmet must be designed specifically for motorcycle riders and passengers and have:

    • An exterior shell of shatterproof material.
    • A supportive cradle that creates separation between the head and the helmet's outer shell.
    • Impact-resistant and absorbent padding.
    • A chinstrap.

    NOTE: Helmet visors are NOT required in Alabama.

    Helmet violation fines vary by county. Check your county traffic service center for more information.

    Motorcycle Helmet Safety Tips

    The state of Alabama suggests you wear helmets that are approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), as they are tested to provide a full field of vision.

    When purchasing a helmet, consider the following:

    • Ensure the snugness of fit.
    • Make sure there are no defects, such as cracks, dents, loose paddings, or frayed straps.

    Bicycle Helmet Laws

    If you are under 16 years old, you must wear a helmet while riding your bike on or in the following public areas:

    • Roadways.
    • Rights-of-way.
    • Bicycle paths.
    • Parks.

    Failure to wear a helmet can result in the following penalties:

    • First offense: A verbal counseling and written warning.
    • Second offense: A written warning instructing the child's parents to contact the police department.
    • Third offense: Confiscation of bicycle (returned to the parents) and a written citation given to the child's parents.
    • Fourth offense: Confiscation of bicycle and a $50 fine. The fee may be reversed if you can show the court proof of purchase of a helmet before the fine’s due date.

    DUIs and Drunk Driving in Alabama

    The Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) enforces strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI).

    You are not legally allowed to drive a vehicle if you have the following blood alcohol content (BAC) levels:

    • .02% or more for anyone under 21 years old.
    • .02% or more for school bus or daycare drivers.
    • .08% or more for anyone operating a vehicle.
    • .04% or more for anyone operating a commercial vehicle.

    AL DUI Fines and Penalties

    Drinking and driving in Alabama can lead to harsh punishments. On your first conviction, penalties include:

    • License suspension of 90 days.
    • $500 - $2,000 in fines or up to 1 year in jail.
    • Additional $100 fine for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund
    • A combination of fines and jail time.

    Subsequent offenses will result in heavier penalties. For more information on AL DUI fines and penalties, visit our page on DUI & DWI in Alabama.

    Reporting Drunk Drivers

    The Alabama DPS suggests dialing “*HP” (or *47) to report any suspected drunk drivers.

    Look for these signs to help determine if a driver may be drunk.

    • Swerving in and out of lanes.
    • Erratic speeding and breaking.
    • Drifting off the road.
    • Driving extremely fast or extremely slow.

    Alabama Headlight Laws

    Automobile Headlights

    Alabama enforces the following headlight laws to keep the roads clear and visible while you drive:

    • Your car must have 2 headlights meeting the following specifications:
      • Low beams must illuminate objects up to 100 feet away.
      • High beams must illuminate objects at least 350 feet away.
    • State law requires that headlights be turned on from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
    • You must use your headlights while windshield wipers are on due to rain, sleet, or snow.

    Motorcycle Headlights

    Your motorcycle must have at least 1 headlight and 1 reflector.

    You should ride with your headlights on at all times to help other drivers see you on the road. Use your low beam at night and in the fog.

    Bicycle Headlights

    If you are riding at night, you must use the following on your bike:

    • A front facing lamp that shines a white light visible from at least 500 feet.
    • A rear red reflector that is visible between 100 feet and 600 feet.

    If you do not follow these regulations and are stopped by law enforcement, you risk being cited for a misdemeanor.

    Boating Laws in Alabama

    Under the Boating Safety Reform Act, you must carry a license to operate a motorized vessel in Alabama waters.

    Children who are at least 12 years old, and accompanied by a licensed boat driver over 21 years old, may drive a boat with a Vessel Learning License.

    For more information on getting a boater’s license, visit our page on Boat Registration and Licenses in Alabama.

    Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

    Just as with drinking and driving, Alabama prohibits anyone from operating a boat or watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You will be cited for boating under the influence (BUI) if:

    • Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher.
    • You are under the influence of any amount of alcohol or drug that is affecting your mental or physical capabilities.

    You face any or all of the following penalties for your first BUI offense:

    • A fine between $600 and $2,100.
    • Up to 1 year in jail.
    • Boating license suspension of 90 days.

    Alabama also enforces different regulations for wet and dry counties. If you are boating in a dry county, you may not have any alcohol on board your boat at any time. In wet counties, you may have alcohol on board for your passengers, but you may not imbibe if you are the driver of the boat.

    For a list of additional fines and penalties for BUI, plus a map of the wet and dry counties throughout the state, visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ boating enforcement page.

    Alabama Life Jacket Regulations

    In Alabama, all children under 8 years old on your boat must wear a life jacket. If you are older than this age, you must wear a life jacket if you are:

    • Being towed on a tube or water skis.
    • Riding a Jet Ski, Sea-Doo, or other personal watercraft vehicle.
    • Boating within 800 feet of a dam.

    While other water activities don’t require a life jacket to be worn, Alabama law does require you to have at least 1 life jacket on board per passenger (for example, if you have 4 people on board, there must be at least 4 life jackets on the boat).

    The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources suggests you follow these tips to keep yourself and others safe while in the water:

    • Wear a life jacket at all times while on a boat.
    • Be aware of your surroundings, including other boaters.
    • Know the laws and rules of the waterway you are in.
    • Be considerate of other boaters and exercise safe and courteous boating practices.
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