What Happens if You’re Caught Driving Without Car Insurance?

Frequently asked questions

Is driving without car insurance a felony?

In all states where required and Washington D.C., driving without auto insurance is classified as a misdemeanor. However, this does not mean that there aren’t significant penalties involved, including jail time, especially if you are a repeat offender.

Can my license be suspended for driving without car insurance?

This is a common consequence if you are caught driving without insurance.

What can I do if I can’t afford insurance?

It is your responsibility to have insurance if you are driving a motor vehicle. Shopping around for quotes from a variety of companies may reveal some lower-priced options that will work for you, especially with discounts. A few states, such as California and New Jersey, offer low-priced auto insurance options for those who cannot otherwise afford it.

What are my state’s minimum requirements for insurance?

The Insurance Information Institute publishes a chart that lists the minimum auto insurance requirements for each state and the District of Columbia. You can check this to see what the minimum liability requirements are for where you live and if there is any additional type of insurance coverage you are required to have.

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What Happens After an Accident If I’m Uninsured?

One of the greatest risks of driving without insurance in Virginia is being financially accountable in the event of an at-fault accident. Driving without insurance means you take full financial responsibility if you cause a car accident. 

You will have to pay out of pocket for the other person’s vehicle repairs or replacement and medical bills, not to mention your own expenses if you also suffered damages.

If you cannot afford the other person’s losses out of pocket, he or she may request the courts arrange a payment plan or garnish your wages to force you to pay. You could also face a personal injury lawsuit from the injured party.

No matter how good of a driver you are, all it would take is one slip-up to ruin your financial future. Only Virginia and New Hampshire give you the option to opt-out of carrying insurance, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Getting the Car Insurance You Need

Believe it or not, you can find affordable car insurance. Maybe it’s as simple as making small lifestyle changes (like trimming down your cell phone plan or eating out less) so you’ve got money to spend on insurance.

Maybe you’re in a truly tough financial situation, though, and the thought of buying car insurance just sounds overwhelming. Listen: It doesn’t have to be that way! You can get rid of financial stress and take control of your money.

In the meantime, you need car insurance to protect yourself so that one accident or traffic stop doesn’t ruin your financial future.

The great news is, liability (the type of insurance required by state law) is generally one of the cheapest car insurances. And it’s one of the easiest to get.

Not sure how much coverage you need? Not to worry! We have a whole network of independent insurance pros called Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs).They’ll look at your situation and shop around with multiple insurance carriers to get you the best coverage based on your car and financial goals. Best of all, they do this at no extra cost to you—so you can just pay your insurance premium and enjoy the open road.

Find your auto insurance agent today!

Can You Drive Someone Elses Car Without Insurance?

As long as the car you are driving is insured, you should be fine.  Remember, auto insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. It is a good idea to have some understanding of the coverage the car you are borrowing has, and to have a copy of the policy available in case an accident should occur while you are driving.

Minimum car insurance requirements by state

As with penalties for driving without insurance, car insurance requirements vary by state. Some require very little coverage, while others require more comprehensive policies.

The most common types of required insurance coverage are bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorist coverage.

Liability car insurance limits are often written as a series of three numbers, which represent the limits for each type of coverage. For example, liability limits for car insurance in Texas may be written as 30/60/25. This means that the state requires drivers to hold at least:

  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $60,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident

If you want cheap car insurance, you may consider only purchasing your state’s minimum required coverage. However, keep in mind that if an accident you cause results in damage that exceeds these limits, you’ll have to pay the difference out of pocket. Also, liability insurance only covers other parties’ damaged property and medical bills. If you want coverage for your own vehicle, you’ll need to buy collision insurance.

Requesting an SR-22 Form

If you’re caught driving without insurance, Virginia may require you to submit an SR-22 before you can legally drive again. An SR-22 form is also known as a “Certificate of Financial Responsibility.” These certificates prove that you hold the state’s minimum required liability insurance at least.

You can request an SR-22 form by contacting your insurance provider. Most providers are able to provide you with these forms free of charge, though they will make a note of your need for one on your record. If you’re not able to procure an SR-22 form through your provider, Virginia may require you to purchase a new insurance policy.

States With the Highest Percentage of Uninsured Drivers

The states with the highest percentage of uninsured drivers are Mississippi (29.4%), Rhode Island (16.5%) and Missouri (16.4%) according to 2019 data by the Insurance Research Council.

Below are some of the worst states for drivers and carrying uninsured motorist coverage is helpful for protecting you and your vehicle. Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay for your losses if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver.

Rank

State

Percentage of Uninsured Drivers

1

Mississippi

29.4%

2

Rhode Island

16.5%

3

Missouri

16.4%

4

Colorado

16.3%

5

Alaska

16.1%

6

Indiana

15.8%

7

Maryland

14.1%

8

Kentucky

13.9%

9

Oklahoma

13.4%

10

Wisconsin

13.3%

Source: Insurance Research Council

What Happens When You’re Found Driving With No Vehicle Insurance?

Fines and penalties for drivers found without insurance are dependent on your home state. Common penalties include:

  • Jail time
  • Substantial fines
  • Car registration and driving license suspension
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Court fees
  • Points on an individual license
  • Filing of SR-22 forms

According to the Bankrate, getting caught without insurance in some states like Michigan is nightmarish, even if you’re not the at-fault driver. If the uninsured driver was hit, they have limited rights of demanding compensation from the insured driver. Also, you may end up paying for damages and medical bills for people affected by the collision even if you’re not responsible for the specific accident.

Penalties For Causing Accidents Without Liability Insurance

Driving with lapsed auto insurance is a traffic offense in all U.S. states. The fines include:

Driving License Suspension

Traffic officers use the state insurance database to validate your insurance information. If a motorist can’t give proof of insurance, the officers issue a ticket and may at times suspend your license for a prescribed period. The state will reinstate your license once evidence of financial responsibility or an SR-22 form is provided.

License suspension occurs due to different factors. Some states will suspend it after traffic violations from driving without insurance. The time required to present proof varies from 24 hours to 15 days, depending on the state. Regardless of where you committed the offense, fines, and reinstatement of a license can cost you hundreds of dollars.

Imprisonment

First-time offenders driving without insurance cannot face imprisonment unless the accident is severe. Repeat offenders get severe fines and maximum imprisonment of up to 180 days. In Michigan, driving without insurance could land you in one year of jail.

Impoundment Of Your Car

Accidents involving drivers with no insurance require most states to impound the vehicle. In extreme cases, its registration and your license are revoked immediately. However, you can have the car back after getting proof of insurance and filing an SR-22 form.

Reinstate License Plates

If your license plates are suspended due to driving without insurance in Illinois, you will be required to pay a $100 reinstatement fee to reinstate your license plates and show proof of insurance. If it’s the first time you’ve been caught driving without insurance, you won’t have to wait long before you can reinstate your license plates and continue driving. However, with subsequent offenses as an uninsured motorist, your right to drive might be on hold, as you may face a longer suspension before you can reinstate your license plates.

How to Find the Best Auto Insurance

As many as one in seven drivers on the road do not have auto insurance, some because they struggle to afford it, and others because they believe the cost outweighs the risk. However, the financial and penal repercussions of driving uninsured can easily exceed the annual cost of carrying basic car insurance.

If you drive, we urge you to purchase at least your state’s minimum required liability insurance. Below are some tips for finding the best auto insurance to meet your needs.

Know Your Limits

To avoid the penalties we have described, you just need to meet your state’s minimum required level of financial responsibility, which is usually around $20,000 to $50,000 of liability coverage. Other types of coverage, such as personal injury protection (PIP) or collision and comprehensive insurance, may not be required by your state, but they provide critical protection if you can afford them.

In most states—if you have a clean driving record—you can find basic liability auto insurance for less than $50 a month.

Shop Around

Shopping around for the best car insurance is vital to finding affordable rates. In most parts of the country, no less than ten companies vie for your business, and usually at least one of them is offering a premium that’s well below the average.

In Utah, for example, we found that Geico offers policies for 50% less than the state average for a 30-year-old driver. Get at least three quotes before choosing a policy. Most companies enable you to get quotes easily online, so getting more shouldn’t be a problem.

Affordable Car Insurance For Low-Income Earners

At least three states, New Jersey, California and Hawaii, offer low-income auto insurance programs for drivers who struggle to afford coverage. In New Jersey, the Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP) is open to those enrolled in Medicaid with hospitalization. In California, you can join its program if your income is less than $60,750 for a household of four people.

In Hawaii, anyone receiving direct cash payment assistance may be eligible for free personal injury protection and liability insurance from the state. Yearly rates could be free for some drivers in Hawaii, and up to $611 if you live in Los Angeles. Regardless, drivers who purchase insurance through one of these assistance programs will pay several hundred dollars less than they would for normal policies.

If You Are an Undocumented Immigrant

If you are in the country without proper documentation, then you most likely do not have a valid driver’s license, making it impossible to get insurance. If you were to be caught driving in this case, not only would you face penalties and fines, but also potential deportation. Luckily, 12 states and Washington D.C. have introduced programs for undocumented immigrants to get legitimate driver’s licenses. Obtaining a legitimate card with driving privileges is the first step in obtaining insurance.

Assigned Risk Programs for High Risk Drivers

If you can afford insurance, but are deemed too risky to cover by insurance companies, you should look into your state’s assigned risk program. Each state’s program is different but, essentially, an assigned risk program is a secondary market for drivers too risky to be insured due to a history of violations or accidents.

Rather than just having one company take on the risk, multiple insurers come together to form a pool that collectively takes on the risk. Rates will generally be higher, but at least you will have insurance and can drive legally.

Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in Each State

In case you’re wondering about your state’s laws, here’s the rundown of penalties for first-time offenses in each state:

State

Fines

Suspension

Jail Time

Alabama

Up to $500

Registration

None

Alaska (in areas where insurance is required)

$500–1,000

Driver’s license

Up to 90 days

Arizona

$500+

Registration and driver’s license

None

Arkansas

$500+

Registration

None3

California

$100–200, plus penalty assessments

None

None4

Colorado

$500+

Driver’s license

Community service

Connecticut

$100–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 90 days

Delaware

$1,500–2,000

Registration and driver’s license

None

District of Columbia

Up to $500

Registration

Up to 90 days

Florida

$30

Registration and driver’s license

None

Georgia

$200–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 1 year

Hawaii

$500

Driver’s license

None

Idaho

$75

Driver’s license

None

Illinois

$500–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

None

Indiana

Up to $1,000

Driver’s license

None

Iowa

$250

None

None

Kansas

$300–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 6 months

Kentucky

$500–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 90 days

Louisiana

$175

None

Up to 30 days

Maine

$100–500

Registration and driver’s license

None

Maryland

Up to $1,000

Registration

Up to 6 months

Massachusetts

$500

Driver’s license

Up to 1 year

Michigan

$200–500

Driver’s license

Up to 1 year

Minnesota

$200–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 90 days

Mississippi

$500

Driver’s license

None

Missouri

$300

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 15 days

Montana

$250–500

None

Up to 10 days

Nebraska

Up to $1,000

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 6 months

Nevada

$600–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

None

New Hampshire

N/A

N/A

N/A

New Jersey

$300–1,000

Driver’s license

Community service

New Mexico

Up to $300

Registration

None

New York

$150–1,500

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 15 days

North Carolina

Up to $1,000

Registration and driver’s license

None

North Dakota

$150+

Registration and driver’s license

None

Ohio

$100

Driver’s license

None

Oklahoma

Up to $250

Driver’s license

Up to 30 days

Oregon

$130–1,000

Registration and driver’s license

None

Pennsylvania

$300

Registration and driver’s license

None

Rhode Island

$100–500

Registration and driver’s license

None

South Carolina

$445

Registration and driver’s license

None

South Dakota

$500

Driver’s license

Up to 30 days

Tennessee

$125

Registration and driver’s license

None

Texas

$175–350

None

None

Utah

$400

Registration and driver’s license

None

Vermont

$47–622

None

None

Virginia

$500 uninsured motor vehicle fee or $600 noncompliance fee

Registration and driver’s license

None

Washington

Up to $250

Driver’s license

None

West Virginia

$200–5,000

Registration and driver’s license

15 days to 1 year

Wisconsin

Up to $500

Registration and driver’s license

None

Wyoming

Up to $750

Registration and driver’s license

Up to 6 months5

Keep in mind, fines and reinstatement fees will be way higher for additional offenses. Plus, states that don’t jail first-time offenders may arrest you if they catch you driving uninsured again. And that’s just for driving around! Heaven help you if you get into an accident—especially if it’s your fault. In fact, accidents are the reason it’s illegal to drive without insurance.

How Much Is the Fine for Driving Without Insurance?

Fines incurred for getting caught driving without insurance may range from $100 to $5,000 based on your state and the number of offenses. In many states, the fine will increase for subsequent violations. The fine ranges below are based on first and second offenses.

State

Fine

State

Fine

Alabama

$200-$300

Montana

$250-$500

Alaska

$100-$250

Nebraska

$50

Arizona

$972-$1,883

Nevada

$250-$1,000

Arkansas

$50-$500

New Hampshire

No mandatory insurance law

California

$100-$500

New Jersey

$300-$5,000

Colorado

Up to $1,000

New Mexico

$300-$1,000

Connecticut

$100-$1,000

New York

$150-$1,500

Delaware

$1,500-$4,000

North Carolina

$50-$100

Florida

$150-$250

North Dakota

$150-$5,000

Georgia

$200-$1,000

Ohio

N/A

Hawaii

$100-$5,000

Oklahoma

Up to $250

Idaho

$75-$1,000

Oregon

$130-$1,000

Illinois

$501-$1,000

Pennsylvania

$300

Indiana

$150-$225

Rhode Island

$100-$500

Iowa

$250

South Carolina

Kansas

$300-$2,500

South Dakota

$100-$200

Kentucky

$500-$2,500

Tennessee

$100

Louisiana

Up to $500

Texas

$175-$1,000

Maine

$100-$500

Utah

Up to $1,000

Maryland

Up to $2,500

Vermont

$250-$500

Massachusetts

$500-$5,000

Virginia

$600

Michigan

$200-$500

Washington

$250

Minnesota

$200-$1,000

West Virginia

$200-$5,000

Mississippi

$500

Wisconsin

Up to $500

Missouri

Up to $300

Wyoming

$250-$1,000

Source: Consumer Federation of America

Need Proof of Insurance? Get Car Insurance Quotes Today!

What happens if you get in an accident without insurance?

The penalties listed earlier also apply, but to a greater extent, if you’re in an accident while driving without auto insurance. You’re more likely to receive several penalties, including a fine, having your car impounded, and getting your license suspended until you can provide proof of insurance. That’s not all, though. You’ll also be liable or partially liable for property damage and injuries caused by the accident, which could cost you hundreds of thousands.

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