Cars and Trucks

Driving an Uninsured Car: Everything You Need to Know

Even if you have personal car insurance, don’t get caught driving an uninsured car. You’ll incur penalties, potentially face legal ramifications, and might even have your vehicle impounded. Fines and penalties can get expensive quickly, so consider getting at least the minimum amount of auto insurance you can afford.

Do Drivers in America Need Car Insurance?

All 50 states, including Washington D.C., require either proof of car insurance or the financial ability to pay for damages or bodily injury resulting from an at-fault accident.

Every state but New Hampshire and Virginia requires drivers to at least carry liability car insurance. While coverage amounts vary by state, the general rule of thumb is 25/50/25, which includes:

  • Bodily injury liability limit per person: $25,000
  • Bodily injury liability limit per accident: $50,000
  • Property damage liability limit per accident: $25,000

    Consider adding additional coverage for more protection, including:

    • Collision coverage: Collision coverage helps pay for damage to your car from an at-fault accident.
    • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car from something other than a collision, such as falling rocks or tree branches, a fire, flooding, or vandalism.

      What Happens If You’re Caught Without Car Insurance?

      Penalties vary by state, but you will face ramifications if you drive and get caught without auto insurance. According to ValuePenguin, penalties might include:

      • A fine
      • Points on your license
      • The suspension of your driver’s license
      • Surrendering your plates and/or registration
      • Possible jail time
      • Having your car impounded
      • Court and reinstatement fees

        You might also need to file an SR-22 form with the court. According to NerdWallet, an SR-22 form shows the state you have the financial ability to pay for damages or bodily injury incurred from an accident. If you have an SR-22 form, expect your auto insurance rates to increase, as you’re perceived to be a high-risk driver.

        Which States Have the Strictest Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance?

        California

        California imposes the following penalties when driving without car insurance:

        • A fine of $100 to $200 plus extra assessments for a first offense.
        • Possible car impoundment.
        • A fine of $200 to $500 plus assessments if you’re caught again after three years.
        • 30 days in jail with a possible $750 fine and the loss of your license for showing fake proof of insurance.

          Florida

          According to the Insurance Information Institute, 26.7 percent of drivers in Florida don’t have car insurance, the highest percentage in the United States. If you’re caught driving without auto insurance in Florida, expect these penalties:

          • Suspension of your license plates and registration for up to three years. If you can show proof of insurance during that time, the state might rescind the suspension.
          • A reinstatement fee of $150 to $500.

            New York

            New York has strict penalties for driving without car insurance or letting someone else drive an uninsured vehicle you own. Penalties for driving an uninsured car include:

            • 15 days in jail or a fine up to $1,500.
            • Revocation of your license and registration for a year or more.
            • A $750 reinstatement fee.
            • An $8 to $12 daily insurance lapse fee.

              Texas

              Expect strict penalties if you get caught driving without insurance in Texas, including:

              • A fine of up to $350, court costs, and extra fees for a first-time offense.
              • A surcharge of $250 per year to the DMV.
              • Up to $1,000 plus a $250 DMV surcharge for a second offense.

                You might get the DMV surcharge reduced to $125 per year if you can show proof of insurance and prepay six months of that insurance policy.

                What Other States Have Strict Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance?

                Colorado

                Colorado imposes the following penalties for driving a car without insurance:

                • A $500 fine and the suspension of your license for the first offense. Show proof of insurance to get your license back.
                • Four points on your driver’s license.
                • A minimum $1,000 fine and four-month license suspension for a second offense.
                • A $1,000 fine and eight-month license suspension for a third offense.
                • 40 hours of community service, if ordered by the court.

                  Connecticut

                  Connecticut has strict penalties for uninsured motorists, including:

                  • A fine from $100 to $1,000.
                  • A Class C misdemeanor conviction if you own the uninsured car. With this conviction, you can face up to three months’ imprisonment time and/or a $500 fine.
                  • A one-month driver’s license and registration suspension for your first offense.
                  • A six-month license and registration suspension for your second or third offense.
                  • Possible vehicle seizure.
                  • A fee of $175 to restore your registration and license.

                    Arizona

                    Arizona imposes the following penalties for getting caught driving without car insurance:

                    • A three-month driver’s license suspension and a fine of up to $250 for your first offense.
                    • A six-month driver’s license suspension and a minimum $500 fine for your second offense in 36 months.
                    • A fine of $750 plus suspension of your license and registration for one year for a third offense.

                      If caught a third time, you’ll also need an SR-22 form.

                      Indiana

                      Expect the following penalties for driving without insurance in Indiana:

                      • A 90-day suspension of your driver’s license and $250 to get it back.
                      • Loss of your license for a year and a $500 fee to get it back for a second offense.
                      • Loss of your license for one year and a $1,000 fee to have it reinstated for a third offense.

                        You will also need to carry an SR-22 form for three years.

                        Check with your insurance carrier to learn if the policy covers the car or the driver, and shop around to find the best auto insurance coverage for your budget and needs.

                        Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.

                        Sources:

                        What Is Collision Car Insurance? | caranddriver.com

                        Comprehensive Insurance: Everything You Need To Know | caranddriver.com

                        What Is an SR-22? Insurance After a Mistake |nerdwallet.com

                        What Happens if You are Caught Driving Without Car Insurance? | ValuePenguin.com

                        Facts + Statistics: Uninsured Motorists | insuranceinformationinstitute.org

                        Car Insurance | caranddriver.com

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