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
|State||Driving Without Insurance Penalties|
|Alabama||Fine 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|
|Alaska||Fine from $500 to $1,000; possible DL suspension from 90 days to one year; possible vehicle impound; SR-22 certificate|
|Arizona||Fine from $500 to $1,000; possible DL, registration and license plate suspension for 3 or 6 months or 1 year; SR-22 certificate|
|Arkansas||Fine from $50 to $1,000; possible DL & registration suspended and license plates confiscated; possible jail time; possible vehicle impoundment|
|California||Fine from $100 ($260) to $500 ($1,300) (plus penalty assessments); possible vehicle impoundment; possible DL & registration suspension; possible SR-22 cert|
|Colorado||Fine from $500 to $1,000; DL suspension; 40-hours community service; SR-22|
|Connecticut||Fine from $100 to $1,000; possible DL & registration suspension; possible 3 months jail; possible SR-22 certificate|
|Delaware||Fine from $1,500 to $3,000; possible DL suspension|
|Florida||DL & license plates suspended; DL reinstatement fee of $500; possible SR-22 cert|
|Georgia||Fine up to $1,000; DL suspension; possible jail; license reinstatement fees; SR-22 certificate|
|Hawaii||Fine from $500 to $5,000; possible community service; DL & registration suspension; jail for repeats; SR-22 certificate|
|Idaho||Fine from $75 to $1,000; DL suspension & reinstatement fees; possible jail time; SR-22 certificate|
|Illinois||Fine from $500 to $1,000; DL & registration suspension; SR-22 certificate|
|Indiana||DL suspended for 90 days, one year for 2nd and subsequent; $1,000 reinstatement fee for 3ed or more; SR-22 for 305 years|
|Iowa||Fine of $250 or community service; possible confiscation of license plates; possible registration suspension; SR-22 certificate|
|Kansas||Fine 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|
|Kentucky||Fine from $500 to $2,500; possible jail; DL suspended; reinstatement fees|
|Louisiana||Fine 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|
|Maine||Fine from $100 to $2,000; DL & registration suspension; possible jail; SR-22|
|Maryland||Fine from $1,000 to $2,000; possible jail time; possible DL suspension|
|Massachusetts||Fine from $500 to $5,000; proof of an entire year of paid insurance; possible jail; DL & registration suspension then revoked; reinstatement fees of $500|
|Michigan||Fine 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|
|Minnesota||Fine of $200 to $1,000; up to 90 days in jail; DL & registration suspension; possible prepayment of 12 months of insurance|
|Mississippi||Fine of $500; possible DL & registration suspension|
|Missouri||Fine of up to $500; possible DL, registration & license plates suspended; reinstatement fees of up to $400; possible up to 15 days in jail|
|Montana||Fine from $250 to $500; possible jail time in lieu of fines; possible DL & registration suspended or revoked|
|Nebraska||DL automatically suspended; reinstatement fee of $50 and file SR-22 certificate for three years|
|Nevada||Fine from $250 to $1,000; DL suspended; reinstatement fee of $251 to $501; SR-22 certificate for 3 years|
|New Hampshire||No 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 Jersey||Fine from $300 to $5,000; DL suspension; community service; possible vehicle impoundment and jail;|
|New Mexico||Fine from $300 to $1,000; immediate suspension of DL & registration; possible jail; possible SR-22 certificate|
|New York||Fine from $150 to $1,500; possible vehicle impoundment; possible jail; DL & registration suspended|
|North Carolina||Fines of $50 to $150; probation or up to 45 days in jail; 30-day license suspension and vehicle suspension|
|North Dakota||Fines from $150 to $5,000; license suspension; SR-22 certificate for one year|
|Ohio||License 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.|
|Oklahoma||Fines of $250; possible 30-days in jail; impounded vehicle; license suspension; $275 reinstatement fee|
|Oregon||Fines of $130 to $1,000; license & registration suspension; SR-22 for 3 years with monthly verification|
|Pennsylvania||Fines of $300 or more; license and registration suspension|
|Rhode Island||Fines of $100 to $1,000; license, registration & plates suspension; SR-22 for 1 year|
|South Carolina||Fines of $550 and up; possible imprisonment; suspension of license & registration; SR-22 certificate|
|South Dakota||Fines 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|
|Tennessee||Fine of $300; license & registration suspended (license exam retaken); SR-22 for 3 years|
|Texas||Fines of $175 to $1,000; possible vehicle impoundment; possible SR-22 certificate|
|Utah||Fines of $400 to $1,000; license suspended up to 1 year; SR-22 certificate for 3 years|
|Vermont||Fines of $100 to $500; possible license suspension; SR-22 certificate|
|Virginia||Fine of $500; license, registration & plates suspension; SR-22 certificate|
|Washington||Fines of at least $450; possible SR-22 certificate for 3 years|
|West Virginia||Fines of at least $200; possible suspension of license; possible jail time and possible SR-22 certificate|
|Wisconsin||Fine of up to $510; driving privileges suspended until an SR-22 certificate on file for 3 years|
|Wyoming||Fines of $250 to $1,500; possible imprisonment; license suspension; SR-22 certificate for 3 years|
|District of Columbia||Fines of $150 and up (50% for subsequent offenses); license suspension; SR-22 certificate for 3 years|
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:
- 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.