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What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?

A young, Caucasian woman who was just pulled over by a traffic officer who illustrates what happens if you get caught with no insurance.

Updated February 23, 2021

You might be wondering — can you drive without car insurance? If you drive without car insurance, you could be putting yourself at risk for big trouble.

Almost every state mandates that drivers have liability car insurance (there are only two that don’t). Driving a car 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, license suspension, and possible jail time, depending on the state.

Is It Illegal to Drive Without Car Insurance?

Are you still wondering — is not having car insurance illegal? Yes! It’s the law, but it also protects you in case you are ever in an accident. While most people think insurance is there to protect them if they’re at fault for an accident, it can also 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 car insurance will cover damages done to your vehicle, other people’s property, and even bodily injuries. If you had to pay for these all out of pocket, it could drain your savings and put you into debt.

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.

If you’re concerned about your own car, you can also add comprehensive, collision, and uninsured motorists 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 to cause an accident, or the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your damages.

Finally, uninsured motorist insurance is for if you get in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance. It comes with bodily injury and property damage coverage for yourself since they don’t have an insurance policy that will pay you.

What Is the Fine for Not Having Car Insurance?

The fine for not having car insurance varies by state. Below, we’ve included the details for all the states where we can help:

  • Alabama: If you get caught driving without car insurance in Alabama, you could face a fine of at least $500 for the first offense. A second (and subsequent) violation can result in a $1,000 fine and the suspension of your driver’s license for six months, plus a $200 license reinstatement fee.
  • Arizona: There’s a fine of $500 for the first offense, as well as a possible three-month license suspension. If you don’t get insurance within 36 months, the minimum fine is $750, and you could have a six-month license suspension. If you get caught a third time not having insurance within 36 months, you’ll pay $1,000 and lose your license for one year.
  • California: The first time you’re caught without insurance, it will cost between $100-$200. If you’re caught again within three years, the fine is $200-$500. Your vehicle registration will also be revoked, and you’ll need to pay $14 to reinstate it.
  • Colorado: The minimum fine for driving without insurance is $500 for your first offense, as well as the suspension of your license until you get insurance. The second time, it’s $1,000 and a four-month suspension. Every time after that, you’ll pay $1,000 and get eight months added to your suspension.
  • Florida: Driving without insurance in Florida means your license could be suspended for up to three years. You’ll need to pay a $500 fee to have it reinstated.
  • Idaho: Idaho is lenient the first time you drive without insurance — you only have to pay $75. If you do it again within five years, though, you’ll need to pay $1,000, or you could go to jail for six months.
  • Illinois: The first time you drive without insurance, the fine is between $500-$1,000. You can also have your license suspended for three months. The second time, it’s $1,000 (unless you’re in an accident, then it’s $2,500), and you’ll get a four-month suspension.
  • Indiana: In Indiana, your license will be suspended until you pay the reinstatement fees. These are $250 for your first offense, $500 for your second, and $1,000 for any subsequent ones.
  • Louisiana: Fines in Louisiana can vary from $500 to $1,000. You may also have your license suspended for 180 days if you’re in an accident.
  • Kansas: Failure to carry the minimum car insurance is a Class B misdemeanor. The penalty for the first offense is a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail. Fines increase to $2,500 for a second citation within three years of the first conviction.
  • Massachusetts: For your first offense, the fine can range from $500-$1,000. After that, it can go as high as $5,000. You could also see up to a year of jail time.
  • Missouri: The first time you drive without insurance, there’s just a $20 reinstatement fee. After that, it rises to $200. Do it a third time, and it’s $400.
  • Nevada: Nevada has a tiered system. You pay anywhere from $251-$1,251 in fines and reinstatement fees for the first offense. For the second one in five years, the penalties range from $501-$1,501. And for the third time, it’s $751-$1,751.
  • New Jersey: In New Jersey, fines are between $300-$1,000 for your first offense. After that, it’s up to $5,000.
  • New Mexico: Driving a car without insurance in New Mexico is a misdemeanor, so you’ll face either a $300 fine or 90 days in jail.
  • New York: If you’re caught without insurance, you’ll need to pay a traffic court fine of up to $1,500. There’s also a $750 penalty to reinstate your license.
  • Oregon: In Oregon, driving without insurance is a Class B traffic violation, so you’ll pay a $265 fine.
  • South Carolina: You’ll need to pay a $550 uninsured motorist fee as well as a $100 fine.
  • Texas: In Texas, the no insurance fee is $260 for your first offense and $470 for your second.
  • Washington: In Washington, there’s a $25 court fee for not having insurance. You may also need to pay a fee of up to $250 for your first offense.
  • Wisconsin: Fees are up to $500 in Wisconsin for not having insurance, including an additional $10 penalty for not showing proof of insurance at a traffic stop.

Can You Drive Without Car Insurance and Face Other Penalties?

upset woman in her car with a cop writing a ticket for not having insurance

We know fines are a big deal when you don’t have insurance. But can you drive without car insurance and see any other consequences? 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.
  • Driver’s license suspension 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. This may cause your insurance premiums to go up, costing you a lot more over the years.
  • Maintaining SR-22 and liability insurance for up to three years. SR-22 is a special type of insurance where your insurance company will send a certified form to your state’s government to verify you have coverage.
  • 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, so brush up on your state’s requirements to know for sure what the consequences are.

Can I Go to Jail for Not Having Car Insurance?

In some states, driving without car insurance 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 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. Luckily, all the states in which Freeway Insurance operates require auto insurance, so we can help you find the policy that meets your specific needs.

What If I Get Into a Car Accident?

Regardless of fault, the accident has to be reported to the DMV. Don’t try to hide the fact that you don’t have 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 not having insurance.

If you don’t have car insurance, 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.

I Have Tickets and a DUI. 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. 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.

Don’t Drive Without Car Insurance!

Getting reliable and affordable car insurance is easier than you think. Freeway Insurance can help you get back on the road quickly with affordable car insurance for all drivers. Call us now at 800-777-5620 or get your free car insurance quote online.

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