Content of the material
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- If You’re Stopped For Driving Without Insurance
- You’re Insured But Don’t Have Proof in Your Vehicle
- What Can an Attorney Do if I am Charged with Driving without Insurance?
- What Are the Consequences of Getting Into an Accident While Uninsured?
- Can You Drive Someone Elses Car Without Insurance?
- Verify Your Insurance Before You Hit the Road
- State penalties for driving without insurance
- How much is a driving without insurance ticket in Michigan?
- What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?
- Penalties for Driving Uninsured or Underinsured
- Penalties for Failure to Have Car Insurance
- No driver responsibility fee
- Penalties for Getting Into an Accident While Uninsured
- License Suspension
- Vehicle Impounded and Loss of Registration
- Prison Sentence
- Financial Consequences
- Our Recommendations For Cheap Car Insurance
- Progressive: 4.5 Stars
- State Farm: 4.5 Stars
- Common Questions About Driving Without Insurance
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If You’re Stopped For Driving Without Insurance
Driving without car insurance is illegal and something we do not encourage. If you choose to drive uninsured and get stopped by law enforcement, it’s important to know what to do in the situation.
“The first thing you should do, if it’s safe, is to call and let someone know that you’ve been stopped in case you are arrested,” says Cox. “If you are asked whether you have valid insurance, be honest. Some states require insurance companies to report when car insurance has lapsed, so the officer may already know that your vehicle is uninsured.”
Getting pulled over can be scary, especially if you are knowingly breaking the law. But no matter what happens, it’s important to follow the officer’s instructions. “Even if a driver is arrested for not having insurance, he or she will have an opportunity to dispute the charges in court,” adds Cox.
You’re Insured But Don’t Have Proof in Your Vehicle
If you have car insurance but are without proof of insurance when you get stopped, the consequences are less severe.
“In most states, not having proof of insurance is a minor traffic offense,” says Jeffrey Scholnick, personal injury lawyer at Silverman Thompson. “It’s possible that you may not even get a ticket for this, as long as the officer can use your tag and registration to verify your insurance.”
If you get into an accident and can’t provide proof of insurance, it’s a similar situation. The police will be able to verify your insurance coverage at the scene. You can also call your insurance company to get your policy number and coverage information.
Needless to say, if you don’t keep proof of insurance on hand, you should put the proper documentation in your car as soon as possible.
Many major insurance companies have a mobile app that allows you to download and view your ID cards right from your phone. In most states, electronic proof of insurance is acceptable if law enforcement requests it.
What Can an Attorney Do if I am Charged with Driving without Insurance?
If you have been cited for driving with no insurance in California, you should speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney immediately. Your attorney may be able to show that you actually have auto insurance but you simply were not carrying proof of insurance with you at the time you were cited.
Your attorney may be able to have the charges dismissed if you obtain insurance following the incident and bring proof of insurance to the judge or prosecutor. Your attorney will be able to go to court without you having to appear in person to resolve your case.
What Are the Consequences of Getting Into an Accident While Uninsured?
Whether it’s yours or the other driver’s fault for causing an accident, there are repercussions to driving uninsured.
If you’re at fault for causing the accident, you are vulnerable to being sued by the other driver. If you suffered vehicle damages, you bear the full brunt of the cost of repairs. However, your auto insurer may have helped absorb some of the costs if you had been insured. Even if you repair your vehicle, however, a judge may revoke your driver’s license and impound your vehicle for driving uninsured.
If you are not at fault for causing an auto accident, you may still face penalties, including fines and the suspension of your license. Certain states, like California or Kansas, may limit what an uninsured driver can sue for, restricting the amount you can claim from the at-fault driver. You may be able to collect compensation for medical services and property damages but you may be restricted from suing for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
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.
Verify Your Insurance Before You Hit the Road
Before you get behind the wheel, you can register your car’s insurance with a Virginia DMV. The state allows you to do this ahead of time courtesy of its Insurance Verification Program.
To register your insurance, you must provide proof of coverage to the program. You can submit this proof through the Insurance Verification Program’s online portal, through the mail, or in person at your local DMV branch.
State penalties for driving without insurance
The penalty for driving without insurance is different in each state. The table below describes penalties for first-time offenses by state. Some state governments will even imprison people for driving without insurance.
How much is a driving without insurance ticket in Michigan?
If you are convicted of driving without insurance in Michigan, you will be required to pay a fine of at least $200 but not more than $500. (MCL 500.3102(2))
What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?
Tickets, fines, and punishments for driving without car insurance depend on the state where you live. (We list each state’s penalties below.) In general, the penalties may include:
- A fine
- Jail time
- Points on your license
- The suspension of your license, registration, and/or plates
- Having your vehicle impounded
- Court fees and reinstatement fees
- The requirement to file an SR-22. An SR-22, sometimes called a certificate of financial responsibility, is filed with the state that proves you have car insurance. If you’re required to have an SR-22, you’re considered a high-risk driver, which means your insurance will be considerably more expensive.
Many states also have a “no pay, no play” law. Meaning if you’re hurt in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, but you don’t have car insurance, there may be a limit on how much you can collect in damages. In Michigan, an uninsured driver may have to pay for other people’s injuries and losses — even if the uninsured driver didn’t cause the crash.
Penalties for Driving Uninsured or Underinsured
You must pay the $500 fee to acknowledge you are aware of the financial risks of driving without insurance if you wish to remain uninsured when you register your vehicle. If you do not pay the $500 fee but drive uninsured anyway, you could face serious penalties, including:
- An additional $600 noncompliance fee
- Driver’s license restriction
- Vehicle registration restriction
- $45 reinstatement fee
- Proof of insurance requirement
- Proof of financial responsibility (SR-22 Form) for three years
Insurance with an SR-22 is often much more expensive than typical car insurance. During the three years, your insurance company will communicate with the DMV to notify them if you cancel.
You must avoid any gaps in your insurance coverage, temporarily deactivate your license plate or pay the $500 uninsured registration fee if you wish to avoid penalties for illegally driving uninsured in Virginia.
Penalties for Failure to Have Car Insurance
While each state establishes its own penalties for auto insurance violations, most states have significant fines for lack of insurance coverage. According to Agent Insure, the driver may also face license suspension, coverage denial if he or she has an accident, and full responsibility for medical and property damage costs in an at-fault accident. The other driver can sue you for the costs he or she incurs in this type of accident, so insurance provides financial protection from this type of lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, the costs could range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cases involving significant personal injury.
New Hampshire is the only state that does not penalize drivers who do not have insurance coverage. Tennessee has one of the lowest ticket costs in the nation for this violation ($25), while fines can be up to $5000 in Massachusetts. Some drivers may even face jail time for failure to have car insurance. Check with an insurance company that services your state to learn more about minimum coverage laws.
The minimum coverage required to legally drive will typically be the most affordable option in your state. However, you have to maintain coverage by paying the monthly or quarterly premiums. If your coverage lapses because payment is past-due, you have no legal coverage and can also be cited if you are stopped by a police officer.
According to The Zebra, the following states mandate license suspension for motorists who drive without minimum auto insurance:
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
- New York
- New Jersey
If an officer pulls you over for driving without insurance, he or she could tow your vehicle. You would then be responsible for towing and impound costs. Louisiana and some other states have a law called “no pay, no play” which prevents uninsured drivers from receiving any insurance settlement after an accident even if the other driver was at fault. According to The Balance, some states may also suspend your vehicle’s registration for driving the car without insurance.
Insure.com notes that fines for driving without insurance are higher in Delaware than in any other state. The first offense carries a fine of $1500 to $2000, and a second offense and all subsequent offenses within the same three-year period carry a $3000 to $4000 fine as well as license suspension. The lowest fines are in Idaho, which currently charges $75 per offense, and Tennessee, where fines for driving without insurance start at $100. In most states, providing a law enforcement officer with false proof of insurance constitutes a felony offense.
No driver responsibility fee
Previously, when a person was found guilty of driving without insurance in Michigan, he or was required to pay a $500 driver responsibility fee “for 2 consecutive years.” (MCL 257.732a(2)(b)(iv)) However, the driver responsibility fee requirement was eliminated, starting on March 31, 2018, according to Public Act 50 of 2018. (MCL 257.732a(10)(c))
Penalties for Getting Into an Accident While Uninsured
If you’re uninsured or have let your insurance lapse, getting into an accident can be a disastrous situation, both for you and the other driver—especially if they don’t have uninsured motorist coverage. Repair and medical expenses from a significant accident can easily cost thousands of dollars, even exceeding $1 million if serious injuries are incurred. Additionally, uninsured drivers who injure or kill other drivers can face significant fines, SR-22 requirements and prison sentences.
State Fines Driving Privilege Other California$360–$720, penalty assessment fees includedMandatory one-year suspension, after which you can have your license reinstated if you maintain an SR-22 for three years.Court may order impoundment of vehicle; 100% liability for other driver’s medical and vehicle expenses if you’re at fault.Texas$175–350 plus an annual surcharge of $250 for three years plus any damages for the accident you were in, if you are liable, up to a maximum of $4,000Automatic suspension of vehicle registration and license for up to two years. File an SR-22 for three years after the accident.Vehicle can be impounded for 180 days; cannot apply for release of car without evidence of financial responsibility. $15 fee for every day your vehicle is impounded; 100% liability for other driver’s medical and vehicle expenses if you’re at fault. Up to one year in jail, depending on severity of accident.Florida$150 reinstatement feeSuspended license until you have provided proof of insurance. SR-22 may be required depending on severity of accident.100% liability for other driver’s medical and vehicle expenses if you’re at fault.New York$150–1500 and an additional civil penalty fee of $750Your license and registration will immediately be revoked for at least one year and up to three yearsCourt may order impoundment of vehicle. Potential imprisonment of up to 15 days.
If you are caught driving without insurance, your license can be suspended in addition to your getting a ticket. The duration of the suspension can vary. In some states, it ends once you show proof of insurance or file an SR-22. In others, the court or DMV can suspend your license for a set period of time based on the state laws.
The circumstances that lead to suspension also vary between states. Some only revoke your license if you are caught without financial responsibility in an accident, while others suspend your license after a traffic violation and require proof of insurance within 24 hours. Reinstating a license can cost several hundred dollars; on top of any other fines, the total cost could equal the annual premium for an auto insurance policy.For example, in Massachusetts your license will be suspended for 60 days if you’re caught driving without insurance. Similarly, in Wisconsin, your driving privileges will be suspended until you file an SR-22, proving that you meet the minimum level of required financial responsibility. In California, however, your license will only be revoked if you are caught without insurance after an accident, not after a routine traffic stop.
Vehicle Impounded and Loss of Registration
If you’re caught driving without insurance, especially if you’re involved in an accident, a court could order your vehicle to be impounded and your license and registration to be revoked. In most states you will not be able to drive the vehicle again until you submit valid proof of insurance to your state’s DMV, typically an SR-22.For example, in New Jersey, if you cannot submit proof of insurance within 24 hours of being cited, your car may be impounded on top of its stripped registration. Getting your car back will require additional reinstatement or processing fees. Some states may even require your vehicle to be impounded for 30 days, causing you further costs and inconveniences.
In most states, driving while uninsured is considered a misdemeanor offense, and can potentially lead to a prison sentence. Jail time will most likely not be imposed for a first offense, unless you cause a serious accident. But repeat offenses will incur higher fines and stiffer punishments, possibly including jail.
If you are uninsured and caught driving, you could face as little as a few days or as much as two weeks of prison time. However, in some states, such as Michigan, you could face up to a full year. These charges may also accompany additional fines and fees.
The legal fines we describe above are costly repercussions set by the laws of your state. They can cost anywhere from $150 to $5,000 for your first offense, once all fees are added in. However, the cost of an accident while driving uninsured can be much higher, and may even be enough to drive you into debt or bankruptcy.
If a driver you crash into does not have uninsured motorist insurance, personal injury protection or collision insurance, an accident could easily cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of repair and hospital bills. You would be on the hook for most of those costs if you are found to be at fault. The other driver might even sue you, and go after any future earnings or savings accounts you may have, in order to pay their bills.
Our Recommendations For Cheap Car Insurance
Your specific car insurance premiums will depend on many factors, like the state you live in and how long you’ve had a lapse in coverage. To find out how to get cheap auto insurance, you can check out our article on comparing car insurance rates. Or, read on to learn more about our top recommended insurance providers.
Progressive: 4.5 Stars
Progressive provides standard liability insurance, as well as coverage like rental car reimbursement and medical payments coverage. You can get coverage immediately, which is helpful if you’ve been without insurance for a period of time. The insurer also offers many discounts to help drivers save money, including safe driver and bundling discounts. Plus, it has the Name Your Price® tool, which allows you to choose how much you want to pay for your auto insurance policy.
State Farm: 4.5 Stars
State Farm has an industry reputation for above-average customer service, including from helpful local agents across the U.S. It offers affordable options for a variety of coverage, including rideshare coverage and roadside assistance plans. State Farm also has a handful of discounts available for things like safe driving and having safety features installed in your car, and it’s one of the best companies to work with if you have teenage drivers.
To start getting free auto insurance quotes from these providers and more, use the tool below.
Common Questions About Driving Without Insurance
Here are some frequently asked questions about the potential consequences of driving uninsured:
What happens if you don’t have insurance and get pulled over?
Drivers who get pulled over and cannot provide proof of insurance may face different repercussions depending on the state. You may have to pay a fine for the misdemeanor and pay to reinstate your license.
How much is a ticket for driving without insurance?
Tickets can be a few hundred dollars, but fines up to $5,000 can follow a simple traffic ticket in some states.
How long can you drive uninsured?
You cannot drive uninsured in any state except New Hampshire and some parts of Alaska. However, even in those states, it’s beneficial to carry insurance, as it protects you from the high costs of getting into a car accident.
Do you need insurance to drive someone else’s car?
As long as you have permission to drive another person’s car, you should be covered under the vehicle’s policy. However, if you get into an accident and the policy does not cover the full amount of losses, you may be financially responsible. Non-owner insurance can help if you’re going without a car for a while but may still drive someone else’s car.
How does driving without insurance affect your premium? If you’re caught driving without insurance and try to get insured afterward, you’ll likely pay higher rates as a high-risk driver. Most of the time, insurance providers will charge more for drivers who have had a lapse in coverage than drivers with one accident on their record.