Alabama’s Department of Public Safety has enacted several laws to keep drivers and passengers safe on the road. These regulations cover everything from helmet use, drunken driving, seat belts, child car seats and cell phone use.
Child Car Seat Laws
According to Alabama child car seat law, all children of certain ages must ride in a federally approved child car seat. Failure to comply with this law will result in a fine of up to $25. Use the following DPS guidelines when buying a child car seat.
- Children under 1 year or less than 20 pounds should use an infant-only, rear-facing or convertible seat.
- Children older than 1 year but under 5 year or weighing 40 pounds should ride in a forward-facing car seat
- Children aged between 5 years and 6 years old should ride in a booster seat.
Alabama Seat Belt Laws
All front car occupants must wear seat belts when the vehicle is running. If you fail to comply with this regulation, you will face a fine of up to $25. If you are seated in the back seat, wearing of a seat belt is not a requirement unless you are younger than 16 years old.
Cell Phone Use in Alabama
If you are aged between 6 years old and 17 years old and you have held a license for less than 6 months, you will not be allowed to use a cell phone while driving. All drivers, regardless of age, are not allowed to use send or receive text messages, instant messages or e-mails. If you are caught violating any of the above law, you face some penalties as explained under Title 32 of the Alabama legislature’s state code. While Alabama doesn’t ban drivers older than 18 years from making phone calls, the Alabama DPS requires you to take great caution when making phone calls while driving. Follow these simple tips:
- Safely pull off the road if you want to make or receive a call.
- Use hands-free mobile devices.
- Never engage in emotionally heated conversations.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws
All motorcycle riders and passengers in Alabama must wear protective headgear. Your headgear must be designed specifically for use by motorcycle passengers and riders. Also, they must have:
- An exterior shell of shatterproof material.
- Impact-resistant and absorbent padding.
- A supportive cradle.
- A chinstrap.
NOTE: In Alabama, helmet visors are not required.
Motorcycle Helmet Safety Tips
The state recommends that you wear helmets that have been approved by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Consider the following when buying a helmet:
- Ensure the snugness of fit.
- Ensure the helmet has no defects.
Bicycle Helmet Laws
If you are younger than 16 years old, you must wear a helmet when riding on public area roadways, rights-of-way, parks or bicycle paths. You will face the following penalties if you are caught violating bicycle helmet law:
- A verbal counseling and written warning if it is your first offense.
- A written warning directing you (parent) to contact the police department if it your second offense.
- Bicycle impoundment and a written citation for third offense.
- Bicycle impoundment and a $50 fine for a forth offense.
DUIs and Drunk Driving
The Alabama Department of Public Safety has strict laws that curb driving under the influence. You are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle if you have the following BAC levels:
- .02% or more for drivers under 21 years old.
- .02% or more for daycare or school bus drivers.
- .08% or more for drivers of any category.
- .04% or more for commercial vehicle drivers.
DUI Fines and Penalties
You will face the following penalties if you are convicted of DUI:
- Up to 90 days license suspension.
- A fine of $500 – $2,000.
- Up to 1 year in jail.
- A combination of fines and jail time.
- Additional fine of up to $100 for the Impaired Drivers Trust Fund.
Subsequent DUI offenses will result in heavier penalties.
Reporting Drunk Drivers
If you suspect a drunk driver driving dangerously, contact the law enforcement officers by dialing *47 or “*HP” on your phone. The following are signs that will help you determine that a driver is drunk:
- Swerving in and out of lanes.
- Drifting off the road.
- Erratic speeding and breaking.
- Driving extremely fast or extremely slow.
Alabama Headlight Laws
- Automobile: A vehicle must be fitted with tow headlights. These headlights must be turned on from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise. Additionally, they must be turned on whenever you can’t see past 500 feet as a result of bad weather. Finally, headlights must be turned on whenever you are using windshield wipers.
- Motorcycle: Your motorcycle must be fitted with at least 1 reflector and 1 headlight. You must turn on these lights during the day and at night when you are on the road.
- Bicycles: Your bicycle must be fitted with a front white lamp which is visible from at least 500 feet and a back facing red reflector visible from at least 600 feet. Both of these lights must be turned on between sunset and sunrise.
Boating Laws in Alabama
Under the Boating Safety Reform Act, you must obtain a license to operate a boat in Alabama waters. Under this law, any child aged 12 years old must be supervised by a licensed boat operator over 21 years old when driving a boat. First they have to obtain a Vessel Learning License. For more information on obtaining a boater’s license, visit the Alabama boat registration and licensing page.
Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
You will be cited for boating under the influence (BUI) if:
- Your BAC is .08% or higher.
- You are under the influence of any addictive substance that is affecting your judgment.
The following are penalties for boating under the influence of alcohol:
- A fine between $600 and $2,100.
- Up to 90 days boating license suspension.
- Up to 1 year in jail.
Life Jacket Regulations in Alabama
All children younger than 8 years old must wear a life jacket while traveling in a boat. Anybody older than 8 years old must wear life jacket if:
- The person is being towed on water skis or a tube.
- Boating within 800 feet of a dam.
- Riding a Sea-Doo, Jet Ski, or other watercraft vehicles.
The law also requires boat drivers to have at least 1 life jacket on board per passenger. The following tips from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will help you and your passengers stay safe while in the water:
- Wear a life jacket at all times while on a boat regardless of your age.
- Know the laws and rules of the waterway you are in.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Keep in mind other boaters.
- Exercise safe boating practices.