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What Happens if You’re Caught Driving Without Insurance?

If you’re caught driving without car insurance, expect legal punishment. Most states penalize you in one or more ways.

Upset man next to damaged car

If you get caught driving without insurance, punishments range from tickets and fines to jail time. Your exact penalties depend on your record and where you live. This article covers:

What Are the Penalties for Driving with No Car Insurance?

If you’re caught driving without required insurance, you could face any of these penalties:

  • Tickets and fines
  • Suspended registration or license
  • Points added to your driver’s license
  • Confiscated license plates
  • Towed and impounded vehicle
  • SR-22 insurance requirement
  • Jail time

The penalties you face for driving without insurance depend on where you live.

They also depend on whether you’ve been caught driving uninsured before. If this is your first offense, the penalty should be less severe than if it’s your second or third one.

Fines for Driving Without Insurance

The penalty you’re most likely to face if you’re caught without car insurance is a ticket.

How much is a ticket for driving without insurance? Some states barely fine you for this offense. Others fine you heavily for it. You can also face points, suspended license, an impounded vehicle, and more – especially if it’s not your first offense.

Here’s how each state fines drivers who don’t have the minimum amount of liability car insurance:

State Fine Amount  
Alabama   Up to $500 for first offense. Up to $1,000 after that.  
Alaska   No fine, but driver’s license is suspended for at least 90 days.  
Arizona   At least $500 for first offense, $750 for second offense, and $1,000 for third offense.  
Arkansas   $50 to $250 for first offense. Up to $1,000 after that.  
California   $100 to $200 for first offense. Up to $500 after that.  
Colorado   At least $500 for first offense. At least $1,000 after that.  
Connecticut   $100 to $1,000.  
Delaware   At least $1,500 for first offense. At least $3,000 after that.  
Florida   $150 reinstatement fee for first offense. $250 for second offense. $500 after that.  
Georgia   At least $25.  
Hawaii   $500 for first offense.  
Idaho   $75 for first offense.  
Illinois   $500 to $1,000.  
Indiana   Up to $1,000.  
Iowa   $250 for first offense.  
Kansas   $300 to $1,000 for first offense. $800 to $2,500 after that.  
Kentucky   $500 to $1,000 for first offense. $1,000 to $2,500 after that.  
Louisiana   No more than $500.  
Maine   $100 to $500.  
Maryland   $150 to $2,500.  
Massachusetts   $500 for first offense. Up to $5,000 after that.  
Michigan   $200 to $500.  
Minnesota   $200 to $1,000 for first offense. Up to $3,000 after that.  
Mississippi   $500 for first offense.  
Missouri   $20 reinstatement fee for first offense. Up to $400 after that.  
Montana   $250 to $500.  
Nebraska   $50 reinstatement fee.  
Nevada   At least $250 for first offense.  
New Jersey   $300 to $1,000 for first offense. Up to $5,000 after that.  
New Mexico   Up to $300 for first offense. Up to $1,000 after that.  
New York   $150 to $1,500.  
North Carolina   $50 for first offense. Up to $150 after that.  
North Dakota   $150 to $1,000 for first offense. Up to $5,000 after that.  
Ohio   $100 reinstatement fee for first offense. Up to $600 after that.  
Oklahoma   Up to $250.  
Oregon   $130 to $1,000.  
Pennsylvania   $300 for first offense.  
Rhode Island   $100 to $500 for first offense. Up to $1,000 after that.  
South Carolina   $550 uninsured motorist fee.  
South Dakota   Up to $500.  
Tennessee   Up to $100.  
Texas   $175 to $350 for first offense. Up to $1,000 after that.  
Utah   At least $400 for first offense. At least $1,000 after that.  
Vermont   $250 to $500.  
Virginia   Up to $500.  
Washington   Up to $250.  
West Virginia   $200 to $5,000.  
Wisconsin   Up to $500.  
Wyoming   $250 to $750 for first offense. Up to $1,500 after that.  
Note: New Hampshire isn’t included because it doesn’t require drivers to carry auto insurance.

 

Will I Lose My License for Driving Without Insurance?

You might, depending on where you live. Most states will suspend your license if you drive without car insurance.

In fact, according to the Consumer Federation of America, the only states that won’t suspend your license if you’re caught driving without insurance are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Texas

Almost all these states suspend your registration if you drive without insurance, however. And many states suspend both your license and registration for driving without insurance. If your license is suspended, you’ll probably need an SR-22 to reinstate it.

Will My Car Be Towed If I’m Caught Driving Without Insurance?

Yes, your vehicle may be towed or impounded or both if you drive without insurance.

Some of the states with laws on the books that allow police officers to tow and impound vehicles for this infraction:

  • California
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Oklahoma

Just because your state isn’t listed above doesn’t mean your car can’t be towed if you’re caught driving uninsured. After all, you won’t be able to legally drive your car after being pulled over as you’ll still be uninsured. Unless you’re parked legally or you have someone who can come get your car, it can be towed.

Will I Go to Jail If I Drive Without Car Insurance?

Going to jail is the penalty you’re least likely to face for driving without auto insurance.

That said, several states will put you behind bars if you cause an accident while driving uninsured. You also may end up in jail – anywhere between 10 days to a year – if you’re caught driving without insurance multiple times.

What Happens If I Cause an Accident and I Don’t Have Car Insurance?

You’ll face one or more of the penalties discussed earlier if you cause an accident while driving without insurance. That means a fine, suspended license, impounded car, and possible jail time.

Along with that, the other driver may sue you. And not just for vehicle repairs, but for medical bills, too. These costs can add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What Happens If Someone Else Causes an Accident and I Don’t Have Insurance?

These states limit what you can recover from another driver who causes an accident if you don’t have insurance:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon

Each of these states have “no pay, no play” laws in place that restrict the types of compensation you can receive in this situation. The International Risk Management Institute says, “the theory is that those who do not buy insurance should not receive benefits from those who do purchase it.”

For example, you probably won’t be reimbursed for “pain and suffering” as you might if you had adequate car insurance. In other words, you can’t collect noneconomic damages. And you usually have to pay a large deductible before – around $10,000 – before you can sue for property damage.

Why It’s Important to Have Car Insurance

All the examples above should make it pretty clear that driving without insurance can cost you big time – especially if you’re involved in a crash. At that point, paying a fine is the least of your worries.

Don’t think you can afford it? Shop around. Compare quotes from a number of insurance companies. Do both of those things and you’ll find the best car insurance for the best price.

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