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What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?

Motorcycle cop pulls person over for driving without insurance

Driving without car insurance opens you up to some expensive trouble, including the cost of a ticket, fines and possibly the necessity of having to file an SR-22 certificate. A requirement for an SR-22 certificate typically translates into significantly higher auto insurance premiums.

Almost every state mandates that drivers have at the minimum some liability car insurance (there are only two that don’t). Driving without insurance is not only illegal, but it also puts you and other drivers at risk. The penalties for driving without car insurance are steep and can include fines, tickets, possible license suspension and possible jail time for subsequent offenses, depending on the state. So, what happens if you are caught driving without insurance?

Is It Illegal to Drive Without Car Insurance?

Yes! There are only two states that do not require car insurance, New Hampshire and Virginia, but both of those states have measures in place to protect motorists and the state. Always carry your proof of insurance with you.

It’s the law, but car insurance can also help you financially if you are ever in an accident. Your car insurance may keep you from getting sued and having your assets seized in court if you cause an accident.

That said, there are a couple of occasions when you can legally drive without having your own insurance.

The Rules Around Driving Someone Else’s Car

If you are borrowing someone else’s wheels, you don’t need to have your own coverage. In these circumstances, the owner should have a policy that covers anyone he gives permission to get behind the wheel, as long as they are a licensed driver.

The Rules Around Using a Rental

If you don’t have your own policy, you can purchase coverage from the rental agency. It’s more expensive but it offers protection against almost any event while you are using the rental.

What Happens If I Accidentally Forget to Pay My Bill?

Stuff happens. Maybe you had an eventful month with other pressing concerns. You are not in the category of repeat offenders. You just forgot to pay your monthly premium. What are the legal consequences?

In most states there is what is known as a grace period of 30 days. These grace periods are used for a variety of different bills, such as your electric bill. So, for example, if you forget to pay an important bill, you should be notified immediately after your due date has passed. While you are in your grace period, your payment lapse won’t be reported to the state and you will be given the opportunity to make good.

But don’t let too many of these grace periods add up. For one thing, it’s harder to come up with the money when you don’t have a solid four weeks in between due dates. For another thing, your service provider may become suspicious and could even cut you off.

Driving Without Car Insurance Will Cost You Plenty

The penalties for not having automobile insurance varies by state. Find your state below and you’ll have an idea of what can happen if you drive without insurance. These possible penalties range in severity from first offense and second offense to third or more offenses. These actions do not include what happens if you get into a car accident while driving uninsured. In most states, you’ll be heavily penalized if you get into an accident while driving without insurance – EVEN if you do not cause the accident! Those who get caught using fake or fraudulent car insurance card will face heavy penalties in every state. This is just some of what happens if you are caught driving without insurance.

Just as an aside, in most states, you’ll be ordered to file an SR-22 certificate with the state if you are caught driving without insurance. The SR-22 is where this ordeal becomes really costly. Read below the table to find out why.

Think you cannot afford car insurance? You cannot afford to not have car insurance!

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance by State

StateDriving Without Insurance Penalties
AlabamaFine from $500 to $1,000; possible DL & registration suspension for 180 days or more; possible 3-6 months in jail; $200 reinstatement fee; SR-22 certificate
AlaskaFine from $500 to $1,000; possible DL suspension from 90 days to one year; possible vehicle impound; SR-22 certificate
ArizonaFine from $500 to $1,000; possible DL, registration and license plate suspension for 3 or 6 months or 1 year; SR-22 certificate
ArkansasFine from $50 to $1,000; possible DL & registration suspended and license plates confiscated; possible jail time; possible vehicle impoundment
CaliforniaFine from $100 ($260) to $500 ($1,300) (plus penalty assessments); possible vehicle impoundment; possible DL & registration suspension; possible SR-22 cert
ColoradoFine from $500 to $1,000; DL suspension; 40-hours community service; SR-22
ConnecticutFine from $100 to $1,000; possible DL & registration suspension; possible 3 months jail; possible SR-22 certificate
DelawareFine from $1,500 to $3,000; possible DL suspension
FloridaDL & license plates suspended; DL reinstatement fee of $500; possible SR-22 cert
GeorgiaFine up to $1,000; DL suspension; possible jail; license reinstatement fees; SR-22 certificate
HawaiiFine from $500 to $5,000; possible community service; DL & registration suspension; jail for repeats; SR-22 certificate
IdahoFine from $75 to $1,000; DL suspension & reinstatement fees; possible jail time; SR-22 certificate
IllinoisFine from $500 to $1,000; DL & registration suspension; SR-22 certificate
IndianaDL suspended for 90 days, one year for 2nd and subsequent; $1,000 reinstatement fee for 3ed or more; SR-22 for 305 years
IowaFine of $250 or community service; possible confiscation of license plates; possible registration suspension; SR-22 certificate
KansasFine from $300 to $2,500; possible jail from 6 month to 2 years; DL & registration suspended, revoked; reinstatement fees; SR-22 certificate for 3 years
KentuckyFine from $500 to $2,500; possible jail; DL suspended; reinstatement fees
LouisianaFine from $500 to $1,000; DL & registration suspended; license plates confiscated; barred from claiming losses in collision accidents; $50 to $500 reinstatement fees; possible SR-22 certificate
MaineFine from $100 to $2,000; DL & registration suspension; possible jail; SR-22
MarylandFine from $1,000 to $2,000; possible jail time; possible DL suspension
MassachusettsFine from $500 to $5,000; proof of an entire year of paid insurance; possible jail; DL & registration suspension then revoked; reinstatement fees of $500
MichiganFine from $200 to $500; possible jail for one year; DL & registration suspension; barred from claiming losses from an at-fault driver; possibly forced to pay the medical bills of anyone who is injured (even the at-fault driver); possibly pay lost wages for anyone in the accident, even the at-fault driver; possibly pay for vehicle repairs over and above the $3,000 limit
MinnesotaFine of $200 to $1,000; up to 90 days in jail; DL & registration suspension; possible prepayment of 12 months of insurance
MississippiFine of $500; possible DL & registration suspension
MissouriFine of up to $500; possible DL, registration & license plates suspended; reinstatement fees of up to $400; possible up to 15 days in jail
MontanaFine from $250 to $500; possible jail time in lieu of fines; possible DL & registration suspended or revoked
NebraskaDL automatically suspended; reinstatement fee of $50 and file SR-22 certificate for three years
NevadaFine from $250 to $1,000; DL suspended; reinstatement fee of $251 to $501; SR-22 certificate for 3 years
New HampshireNo requirement to have car insurance, however, if you cause an accident and cannot pay for the damages, your DL & registration will be suspended until you do pay for it. After that, you’ll need to file an SR-22 certificate for 3 years.
New JerseyFine from $300 to $5,000; DL suspension; community service; possible vehicle impoundment and jail;
New MexicoFine from $300 to $1,000; immediate suspension of DL & registration; possible jail; possible SR-22 certificate
New YorkFine from $150 to $1,500; possible vehicle impoundment; possible jail; DL & registration suspended
North CarolinaFines of $50 to $150; probation or up to 45 days in jail; 30-day license suspension and vehicle suspension
North DakotaFines from $150 to $5,000; license suspension; SR-22 certificate for one year
OhioLicense reinstatement fees from $160 to $660; possible license surrender for up to 2 years; SR-22 for 3-5 years; third offense state can take your vehicle and sell it.
OklahomaFines of $250; possible 30-days in jail; impounded vehicle; license suspension; $275 reinstatement fee
OregonFines of $130 to $1,000; license & registration suspension; SR-22 for 3 years with monthly verification
PennsylvaniaFines of $300 or more; license and registration suspension
Rhode IslandFines of $100 to $1,000; license, registration & plates suspension; SR-22 for 1 year
South CarolinaFines of $550 and up; possible imprisonment; suspension of license & registration; SR-22 certificate
South DakotaFines of $100 to $500; 30 days in jail; license suspension 30 days to 1 year; reinstatement fee of $50 to $200; SR-22 certificate for 3 years
TennesseeFine of $300; license & registration suspended (license exam retaken); SR-22 for 3 years
TexasFines of $175 to $1,000; possible vehicle impoundment; possible SR-22 certificate
UtahFines of $400 to $1,000; license suspended up to 1 year; SR-22 certificate for 3 years
VermontFines of $100 to $500; possible license suspension; SR-22 certificate
VirginiaFine of $500; license, registration & plates suspension; SR-22 certificate
WashingtonFines of at least $450; possible SR-22 certificate for 3 years
West VirginiaFines of at least $200; possible suspension of license; possible jail time and possible SR-22 certificate
WisconsinFine of up to $510; driving privileges suspended until an SR-22 certificate on file for 3 years
WyomingFines of $250 to $1,500; possible imprisonment; license suspension; SR-22 certificate for 3 years
District of ColumbiaFines of $150 and up (50% for subsequent offenses); license suspension; SR-22 certificate for 3 years
upset woman in her car with a cop writing a ticket for driving without insurance

Car Insurance Helps Pay for the Toll of Accidents

While most people think automobile insurance is there to protect them if they’re at fault for an accident, carrying uninsured motorist coverage can also help pick up the tab if the other driver isn’t insured or doesn’t have good enough coverage for the damages.

If you cause an accident, your liability car insurance will help pay for damages done other people’s property, and even their bodily injuries. In a no-fault state, your liability insurance and medical coverage will help to pay for your damages in injuries. If you had to pay for these all out of pocket, it would drain your savings and put you into debt. In some states, you can be sued and lose assets, such as your home.

What Kind of Car Insurance Do You Need?

Liability car insurance is mandatory because it provides bodily injury and property damage coverage. This means it will cover another driver’s medical bills and repairs if you hit them and it’s the bare minimum you’ll need to have to avoid legal trouble in your state.

Some states also require other minimum coverages, such as uninsured motorist coverage (UIM), personal injury protection (PIP) or medical coverage (MedPay). UIM is a great value for its cheap cost, providing protection for you if you get in an accident with a hit-and-run driver or someone who is driving an uninsured vehicle. PIP is typically required in no-fault states and, like MedPay, helps pay for hospital costs, lost wages and other expenses.

If you’re concerned about your own car, you can also add comprehensive car insurance and collision auto insurance to your policy for more protection. These are optional when it comes to state laws, but they’re essential if you want to avoid costly repair bills.

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car that’s out of your control. For example, if a tree falls on your vehicle during a storm or you hit a deer while driving, this policy will cover repair costs.

Collision insurance covers any damage to your vehicle if you’re in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. It’s useful when you cause an accident, or the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your damages.

Some other tips for finding the best automobile insurance for you include:

Go in With a Clear View of Your Finances

It’s nice to be able to just purchase a whole protection package with the required amounts plus some. But if you cannot pay your monthly premium or your deductible if and when the time comes, you haven’t purchased the correct protection for you.

Don’t Take the First Deal

Shopping around is good advice for almost anything you want to buy and you are probably used to comparing prices. The same applies here. You may see a widely different set of numbers from different carriers.

Check Out Discounts

All insurers offer discounts and you should take advantage of them wherever you can. Some offer up to 25% off your premium. Just ask which ones are offered and see if you qualify. It’s a great way to save money.

Other Penalties for Driving Without Required Insurance

We know fines are a big deal when you don’t have insurance. In many cases, the fines total more than the original car insurance would have cost. Unfortunately, fines are just the bare minimum of what can happen to you. Additional penalties can include:

  • Vehicle impoundment. If this happens, you’ll need to pay to have your vehicle released.
  • Suspension of your license for up to four years. This is major, as it means you can’t operate any vehicle for the specified period.
  • High-risk driver label. Having the requirement to maintain an SR-22 certificate may cause your insurance to double – or even triple.
  • Job loss. If you drive for a living, you could lose your job for not having insurance.

Each state has different penalties for driving uninsured, but the consequences are not worth it in any state. Don’t forget that you can get fined just for not having proof of insurance on your person or in your car when a police officer asks for it.

Can I Go to Jail for Not Having Car Insurance?

In some states, driving without required insurance first offense is a misdemeanor and can land you in jail. Kansas, Idaho, Michigan, and Kentucky are just a few states that impose jail time for driving uninsured. In California, it is unlikely, but depending on the severity of your offense, and if a law enforcement officer finds any other issues at your stop, you could be detained.

That said, most states do give you at least a warning before sending you straight to jail. Jail time usually comes into play on the second and third offenses. Don’t rely on this, though. There’s always a chance you could face an aggressive judge looking to take a strong stance on uninsured drivers in your state.

Can You Drive Without Car Insurance in Other States?

Are there any states where not having car insurance is legal? Technically, there are two states where you can drive without having proof of insurance. These are New Hampshire and Virginia. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have any responsibilities if you get into an accident.

In New Hampshire, there is no mandatory insurance law. That said, if you get into an accident, you have a legal responsibility to cover up to $25,000 per person for bodily injury liability, up to $50,000 per accident. You also must cover up to $25,000 in property damage liability if you’re at fault.

Virginia is a little different. There are minimum insurance requirements of $25,000 for bodily injury liability (up to $50,000 per accident) and $20,000 for property damage liability. That said, you can get out of this requirement if you pay the state an uninsured motorist’s vehicle fee every year. Because that’s only $500, some motorists choose to do this, as it is cheaper than having an insurance policy.

Just because you technically can drive without car insurance doesn’t mean you should

A Car Accident While Driving Uninsured Means Big Trouble

Regardless of fault, the accident has to be reported to the DMV. Don’t try to hide the fact that you don’t have the required insurance; this will only make matters worse. And definitely don’t try to forge an insurance document — fines and penalties for this are far steeper than just having an insurance lapse, even for a first offense.

If you don’t have car insurance coverage, you may face the following consequences:

  • Tickets
  • Fines up to $520
  • Mandatory one-year license suspension
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Maintain an SR-22 and liability insurance for three years

If you were at fault in the accident, keep in mind you may face legal proceedings from the other driver to cover any damages or medical bills. It may be in your best interest to try and settle out of court, so you aren’t slammed with expensive lawyer fees.

Some states have implemented the No Pay, No Play law. This law states that if you are driving uninsured and you get into an accident – even if it is not your fault – you are limited in what you can collect for your own damages and injuries from the other driver’s insurance company. More states are taking a serious look at the No Pay, No Play law.

I Got Caught Driving Without Insurance. Can I Still Get Reliable Car Insurance?

Yes, you can. Freeway Insurance provides quality car insurance for all drivers regardless of driving record. We can help you get an SR-22 in just a few minutes.

Typically, states require you to have an SR-22 for three years after you were caught driving without insurance first offense. The reason for this is that it makes it easier for them to check up on you. Since your insurance company automatically verifies this, the state can easily see that you’re following the law.

Find Affordable Car Insurance Quotes Online Today!

Getting reliable and affordable car insurance coverage is easier than you think. Freeway Insurance can help you get back on the road quickly with affordable car insurance for all drivers. You can get a fast and free car insurance quote online, or call us now at 800-777-5620. You can also stop by one of our convenient locations.

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