What are Alabama Public Traffic Records?
Alabama public traffic records are official documents that contain a driver's road usage history, including their traffic violations, accidents, and license suspensions. These records are generated by different government agencies, typically after an individual obtains their Alabama driver's license or breaks a state traffic law or local ordinance. The agencies responsible for generating and maintaining Alabama public traffic records include the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's Driver License Department, the judiciary, and the Department of Revenue's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Are Traffic Records Public in Alabama?
Yes, traffic records are public in Alabama under the Alabama Public Records Law. As such, interested citizens may request, view, and take copies of any public record generated or maintained by government agencies in the state. However, there are exemptions to the public records law. For example, Alabama adopts a federal law called the Driver's Privacy Protection Act. This law prohibits the disclosure of private or confidential information on traffic records, including a driver's residential address, mail, phone number, and social security number. As a result, private information on driver's records may be removed or redacted upon third-party requests.
What do Alabama Traffic Records Contain?
Alabama traffic records contain information about motorists and their traffic/driving histories. Hence, the following is included within Alabama traffic records:
- The driver's full name & personal information
- Medical information
- Social security number
- Driver's license number
- License status
- Accident or crash reports
- License suspensions
- Outstanding or issued traffic tickets
- Fines and sentences
Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Alabama?
Yes, citations go on an offender's record in Alabama. In most states, only moving violations or serious traffic violations appear on an offender's record. However, In Alabama, most traffic citations are considered misdemeanor offenses and are reported on offenders' records.
Types of Traffic Citations in Alabama
In Alabama, law enforcement agents, such as the uniformed officers of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), issue traffic citations (or tickets) to road users who violate state traffic laws. Examples of these traffic citations include:
- Speeding tickets: These tickets are issued to road users who violate speed limits. The penalty issued depends on the severity of the violation.
- Red light and stop sign tickets: Alabama uses traffic cameras to monitor road usage in the state. Those found violating traffic signs are issued red light or stop sign tickets.
- Parking tickets: Parking tickets are issued for various parking offenses, including loading zone violations, parking in a safety zone, or parking in a handicapped spot.
- Moving violation tickets: These tickets are issued for all other moving traffic violations, including driving under the influence (a DUI) and reckless driving.
Some traffic citations/tickets require court appearances in Alabama, while others can be resolved remotely through the Alabama Traffic Service Center.
Alabama Traffic Citation Lookup
Persons interested in looking up a traffic citation in Alabama may visit the Alabama Traffic Service Center. The traffic service center offers an online ticket resolution system, credit card payment system, traffic call center, and automated phone service. Interested parties may retrieve traffic citation information from any of the available options. For instance, the online ticket resolution system allows interested parties to look up traffic citations using a ticket number, case number, and birth date.
Alternatively, parties interested in looking up Alabama traffic citations may contact the court in the city or county where a ticket was issued. Some courts, such as the one in Montgomery, provide online portals where individuals can look up case and citation details. Huntsville also has an online payment system that people can use to look up traffic citations issued in the state.
How to Lookup my Alabama Traffic Records
To look up Alabama traffic records, interested parties may use the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) 's online driver history record search. Requesting parties must register to use this website. Parties must also note that ALEA does not offer personal driving records through this portal.
ALEA offers the different types of records that provide insight into a driver's traffic history:
- Uniform traffic crash report: This contains accidents involving a record holder. The record shows the number of fatalities (if any), the county where the accident took place, the date of the accident, and the motorist's identifying information.
Individuals interested in obtaining uniform traffic crash reports from ALEA can fill out a request form and return it to the agency with a $15 fee. The department accepts payment through money orders, certified checks, and cashier's checks. Requesters may also obtain crash reports in person at any driver's license reinstatement office or over the phone at (334) 242-4241. ALEA accepts credit card payments for phone requests.
- Three-year driving record: A three-year driving record contains information about a driver's traffic violations, license suspensions, accidents, license points, and any completed driving courses within the past three years.
The ALEA provides a driver's record request form that individuals can fill out, download, and mail to obtain personal three-year driving records; a request fee of $5.75 must accompany the completed form. (The fee is payable by cashier's check, certified check, or money order.) All can be sent to this address:
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
Driver License Division
P.O. Box 1471
Montgomery, AL 36102-1472
Requesting parties may also obtain three-year driving records over the phone at (334) 242-4241 or in person at a driver's license reinstatement office. Credit card payments are allowed for phone requests, and cash payments are accepted from in-person requesters.
- Driver abstract: A driver abstract contains a motorist's entire driving history. However, individuals can only request a complete history record in person after presenting a government-issued ID to the staff. A fee of $15 will be charged requesters to obtain a driver abstract. The fee is payable by cash, Mastercard, Visa, or money order. ALEA does not accept personal checks.
- Lifetime Commercial Driver's License (CDL) history: Current and prospective CDL holders can use the request form provided by the ALEA to request their entire driving history. However, a lifetime CDL history request is typically used for employment purposes.
Third-party driving record requests: when requesting someone else's driving record containing personal information, the requesting party must prove that they satisfy the Driver's Privacy Protection Act's requirements. Usually, the record request form used by the requester will be different from the ones used for individual requests. However, the fee remains $5.75.
Alabama Traffic Violations
A traffic violation in Alabama is any road-traffic offense that contravenes the state's traffic laws. These violations can lead to penalties, including fines, points on your license, and even jail time. Some of Alabama's most common traffic violations include speeding, running a red light, and driving under the influence (DUI).
Motorists convicted of a traffic violation in Alabama will likely face penalties. The severity of the penalty will depend on the specific offense, their prior driving record, and other factors. For example, speeding 26 miles per hour or more over the posted limit is considered a misdemeanor offense in Alabama and can result in a fine of up to $500. Motorists convicted of multiple traffic violations or those involved in accidents may face more severe penalties.
Traffic violations can lead to points being added to the offender's license. If they accumulate too many points, their licenses may be suspended. In addition, certain traffic offenses can result in a mandatory license suspension. These include DUI, speeding 30 miles per hour or more over the posted limit, and fleeing the scene of an accident.
Alabama License Plate Lookup
Alabama traffic records typically feature the license plate information of the vehicle. License plates play a significant role in driver and vehicle identification. There are several ways to conduct an Alabama license plate lookup. One way is to use the online search tool provided by the Alabama Department of Revenue. This tool allows interested persons to search for license plates by either the plate number or the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Requestors may also visit their local county tax assessor's office to look up license plates. Each county in Alabama has its own office, and each office maintains its records.
The requesting party may need to contact the Alabama Department of Public Safety to look up license plates for legal purposes, such as a court case or insurance claim. The Department of Public Safety maintains a statewide database of all license plates in Alabama. This database can be searched by plate number or VIN. Requestors will need to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to access the database.
Requestors can also find license plate lookup services online. These services usually charge a fee, but they may offer a more comprehensive search than the Alabama Department of Revenue or the Department of Public Safety.
How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Alabama
Interested members of the public may view Alabama traffic case records at no cost by submitting records requests to the clerk of the court that resolved the case. Court clerks are record custodians and are required to make case records available to members of the public on request. Requesting parties may view traffic case records at the courthouse or clerk's office for free; however, the court charges a fee to produce copies of case records or send requested records via mail.
Some courthouses also maintain public access terminals to serve persons who wish to search and view court records without assistance from the court clerk. Interested parties may contact the court clerk or the court's administrative office beforehand to learn about the available record search and retrieval options.
It is worth mentioning that traffic case records can be viewed remotely through the Alabama Judicial system's Alacourt Access portal. However, access is not free (a nominal fee is charged per request), and every user must have a username and password. Still, it may be more convenient than going to a court's physical location.
Alabama traffic case records may also be available from third-party websites since they are considered public records. Unlike government sources or websites, third-party websites do not have any geographical limitations. Hence, interested parties may access these websites from anywhere in the world. However, some third-party websites may require registration or subscription to access traffic records.
How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on Public Records in Alabama
In Alabama, traffic offenses stay on an offender's driving record indefinitely but stop counting towards a suspension after two years. In other words, the points accrued due to a traffic conviction, which tresult in license suspensions, become obsolete after two years. Still, the conviction itself will remain on a driver's record.
It is worth noting that the period within which an offense remains on a driver's record in Alabama may differ from the length of time that it impacts a driver's auto insurance rates.
How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Alabama
To remove traffic records from public websites in Alabama, a record owner may petition the court to expunge or seal their record. An expungement removes a traffic violation record from an offender's criminal history record. After the court grants an expungement order, the traffic violation is deemed to have never happened. Upon receiving the expungement order, the record owner may contact public websites through their lawyer to request their traffic records be removed.
In Alabama, expungement is only available under certain conditions:
- When the court finds the defendant not guilty
- When the court dismisses the charge(s) against the defendant with prejudice
- When a grand jury does "no bills" a charge, i.e., declares that insufficient exists to indict a person.
- When the court dismisses the charges without prejudice and the charge has not been refiled.
In addition to the above-stated conditions, persons seeking expungement must have completed all parole requirements and completed the waiting period.
However, Alabama laws do not allow offenders to expunge violent offenses and serious traffic offenses. When traffic records are not eligible for expungement, record subjects may provide the relevant public agencies with alternate private information such as a telephone number or residential address to protect their privacy. For example, ALEA allows Alabama citizens to change their address at no charge. Individuals can simply fill and submit a Change of Address form to the law enforcement agency.
Some third-party websites also allow record owners to opt out of having their records displayed online. Record subjects may also contact the agency managing a website directly to request removal.
Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Alabama?
Most motoring/traffic offenses do not affect criminal records in Alabama because they are often deemed civil traffic offenses ("infractions"). Civil traffic violations are commonplace and considered minor offenses. These offenses do not carry criminal penalties because they do not typically involve injury or fatality to another person, nor are they committed with malicious intent. Usually, a person cited for a civil traffic offense does not need to appear in court to resolve the matter unless they want to dispute their traffic ticket.
However, there are serious traffic violations that are considered criminal offenses, and these violations affect criminal records. Criminal motoring offenses or traffic violations show up in an offender's criminal record and may also appear during background checks. Examples include vehicular homicide, reckless driving, and fleeing from law enforcement.