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What is the Penalty for Driving Without Insurance

Driving Without Insurance

Believe it or not, thousands of people in the United States still get behind the wheel of a car without a car insurance policy or valid car insurance cards. Despite the fact that it is illegal to drive with no insurance or invalid insurance in all states, people put themselves and others at risk everyday without it. It's unacceptable when there are dozens of different car insurance companies offering low price policies meant to only meet state minimum requirements. Fortunately, lawmakers think it's unacceptable too and have introduced increasingly severe punishments for driving without car insurance. Since every state has different laws regarding car insurance, here's a general look at several scenarios and types of penalties they could result in.

Driving without Car Insurance Scenarios

  • In the case that you're pulled over by a police officer and are found to not have a valid car insurance policy, you'll probably receive a hefty fine and could even have your license and registration suspended, especially if you're charged with any other offenses. The fines are usually $100-$500, although some states include a surcharge or fee, which could nearly double the price of the fine.
  • Let's say it's your second or third time being caught by a police officer without car insurance. Now you will almost certainly have your license and registration suspended for 6 months to a year and your fine will be twice as large as the first offense. In some cases, your car could also be towed and impounded. After several offenses, you could even do a year of jail time in some states.
  • Now let's examine probably the worst case scenario - you're involved in a major car accident with multiple injuries to another driver or their passengers. Not only will you face stiffer consequences from the law, such as fines and jail time, you'll be looking at a whole new set of problems from the other driver. First, you'll have to pay out of pocket for any damage done to their vehicle, which can easily reach thousands of dollars. Of course, if the driver or their passengers suffer any injuries, you'll be responsible for those medical bills as well. You could also face a bevy of other charges if the other driver is seriously injured, such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and other punitive damages.

Financial Responsibility Laws vs. Compulsory Insurance

Interestingly enough, some localities do not make motorists show proof of insurance on routine traffic stops. Proof of insurance may still required required, but only in the event of an accident. The thinking in these states is that the government has no right to penalize you for a crime that you only might commit. But if you fail to produce insurance at the scene of an accident, you are in big trouble - your license and registration are suspended until you are able to pay for all of the damages you've caused, out of pocket.

At the end of the day, the real issue is that auto insurance is something you absolutely should have, regardless of the law. The important thing is to get the right coverage for you. A good agent will match your needs with your budget and find the right coverage package at the right price. Comparison shopping is the key, and with the advent of the internet, it has never been easier to make sure you're getting the best deal.