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New car insurance fines may make for upset drivers

ryan robertson commission

Ryan Robertson, the commission chairman and Cleburne County Probate judge, speaks at the Cleburne County Commission work session Monday night.

HEFLIN — Fines for even one day of lapsed car insurance will be $200, according to Cleburne County officials. 

During the monthly work session of the Cleburne County Commission Monday night, Ryan Robertson, probate judge and commission chairman, informed the commission that the state is tightening fines for motorists who let their car insurance lapse even a single day.

Robertson said the fine for insurance coverage lapse for just for one day is $200. 

“We of course have to administer that and we get 15 percent, which is $30 ... it takes up time and people who switch from Progressive to Geico or Geico to Progressive, sometimes they will lose a day and it costs them an extra $200 and these people are mad at me,” said Robertson. 

He said that the $200 per vehicle fine is a “little steep,” especially for individuals who own multiple vehicles.

If the vehicle was parked and not being driven there was a lot more leniency and the probate office, “could almost take their word for it,” he said.

“It’s just a mess. We can explain all day long, ‘Hey, this is the state,’ but they’re looking at me,” he said. 

Robertson said he hopes to put the new stringent insurance requirements on the county website to alert motorists.

“Today a customer had to pay $400,” Robertson said.

In other business, the commission discussed which fire department will be responsible for responding to incidents at Cheaha State Park and surrounding areas.

At next week’s formal meeting representatives from both Hollis Fire Department and Shinbone Valley Volunteer Fire Department, which is located in Clay County, will hash out who should respond to fires and other incidents.

The Shinbone Fire Department is located much closer to Cheaha State Park than Hollis Fire Department, according to Hollis Fire chief Dan Hopkins.

When reached by phone Monday night Hopkins said the Hollis department has been responding to fires on Mount Cheaha for a long time.

Hopkins said there was a small fire on Cheaha two weeks ago.

“It tooks us a little over 30 minutes to get from our station to top of the mountain,” Hopkins said. “By the time we got there Shinbone had the fire out and was leaving.”

Hopkins said if there is a major wreck on Alabama 281 the Hollis Fire Department can get to the scene in 19 minutes.

“Shinbone can get there in eight minutes, so it’s what’s better for the good of the public,” said Hopkins. 

He also said that Shinbone does not run that many calls and Hollis runs over 200 calls each year.

The next meeting of the Cleburne County Commission will be Monday night at 5 p.m. at the Mountain Center.

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.

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