New law could result in tickets for reasonable proof of fault in auto accidents

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A new law in Alabama could mean you get more than a crash report if you’re in a wreck. You could get a ticket, too. The state legislature passed House Bill 1 last session, and Governor Robert Bentley signed it in May. It went into effect August 1st.

Under the former law, law enforcement officers could only issue citations for DUI and not having insurance at the scene of a crash. Now that will extend to other traffic violations that may have helped cause the crash, even if the officer did not witness the offense.

“I couldn’t tell you 50 percent or 60 percent, but I’d say a high percentage are caused by someone committing a traffic violation, either an unsafe or improper lane change or turn, running a red light, running a stop sign,” said Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar.

He says his department will handle crashes as they have always done, and let the evidence lead them.

“The investigation should actually be conducted the exact same way it’s always been. What you’re trying to do is determine–number one, who’s at fault, and number two, what happened to cause that traffic crash,” Folmar said.

However, not all drivers agree with the new law.

“Who’s to say who’s at fault? Some people have medical emergencies, anything can happen. You can drop a cigarette, waste a cup of water, and now you’ve got a ticket,” David Zeigler, a Birmingham resident, said.

Alabama is not the first to pass a bill like HB 1. Many other states already have a law like this on the books.

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