The penalty for driving without insurance varies from state to state across the U.S. except for Virginia and New Hampshire. The insurance law requires all drivers to have the state-required minimum liability before driving on their roads. Whether you caused an accident or an officer stopped you, failure to demonstrate your financial responsibility will subject you to substantial penalties, loss of registration of your vehicle, and fines.
Why Is Driving Without Insurance Illegal?
Driving without insurance is a danger to yourself and other motorists. When a simple accident occurs, it ruins the car and lives of the injured people. Compensating these individuals and paying for car repair bills without insurance can run your savings dry and may lead to the loss of your assets.
In the U.S., the average car liability claim for bodily injuries is $15,270 per accident and $3638 for property damage. At-fault drivers are responsible for these costs if they don’t have minimum liability coverage. Moreover, lawsuits amounting to millions of dollars are possible for severe collisions. If you’ve been driving without insurance, you don’t want to take this risk.
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.
What Happens If You Have an Accident Without Insurance?
The at-fault driver is always responsible for property damage, auto repair, hospital bills, and significant losses, according to the Zebra. Driving without insurance will force you to pay for all the bills out of pocket and may warrant civil lawsuits if you’re not in a position to settle the damages amicably.
At-fault drivers involved in accidents face the following:
- The driver cannot buy insurance immediately after the accident as a cover-up.
- Even if both cars have insured drivers, the at-fault driver is liable for all the damages.
- Drivers who fail to settle repair and medical bills are eligible for a lawsuit.
- Besides settling the court fines and license suspension, you must pay a reinstatement fee.
- Such drivers must file an SR-22 form if the accident injured or had someone killed.
- Penalties will increase dramatically on each subsequent crash and can lead to a permanent suspension of your license.
Determining whether you’re at fault or not may be difficult at times. Inviting your insurance agents to the accident scene is instrumental in straightening the facts with your car’s claims adjuster and its restoration. Without coverage, you’ll end up paying for the financial responsibilities alone.
Although some states allow an insured driver who is not at fault to claim, Louisiana has strict insurance laws. Uninsured drivers can’t get compensation even if not at fault.
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.
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.
Do You Need Insurance to Drive a Leased or Borrowed Car?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, most states hold the driver solely responsible for driving without insurance. Before driving, confirm whether the liability policy is still valid. Financial responsibilities arising from the collision will be billed to you since you were the driver when the accident occurred.
Can Undocumented Immigrants Get Insurance Coverage?
Undocumented immigrants have no legal papers to be in the state, which could deter them from obtaining a license. Cognizant of the hurdle, most states have enacted laws that allow undocumented immigrants to get car insurance and licenses.
The following states allow undocumented immigrants to get car insurance and a driver’s license:
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- New York
Anyone living in these states shouldn’t drive without insurance for fear of being deported.
Can You Be Classified As a Criminal for Driving Without Insurance?
Unlike other crimes, driving without insurance is not a reason to have your particulars in the criminal record. However, you’ll keep adding points in your driving license records and could be expunged from the database for serious subsequent offenses.
Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.
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