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All 50 states require some proof of insurance to operate a vehicle on public roads. This can be proof of purchase, an insurance identification card, or, in some states, proof of financial responsibility. Driving without insurance comes with several penalties, including:
- Points on your license
- License, registration, or plate suspension
- Court fees
- Vehicle impoundment
- Filing an SR-22 form
- Reinstatement fees
- Jail time
Why Is It Illegal to Drive without Insurance?
Most states require motorists to carry auto insurance because the expenses related to a traffic accident can cause significant financial damage. If you don’t have liability insurance, when you get into an accident, the other person could become bankrupt trying to cover the cost of medical bills and property damage, and so could you.
What’s the Penalty for Driving without Insurance?
The penalties for driving without car insurance and how each state monitors the uninsured differ greatly. In some states, you can even be penalized when you aren’t driving your vehicle.
Twenty-two states actively monitor registered vehicles to ensure they are properly insured. If your car is registered but not insured, your state might still fine you. When you’re caught driving without the state minimum car insurance, the officer can tow and impound your vehicle. Because car insurance is a legal requirement, the police officer is within his or her jurisdiction to impound your vehicle. You would then need to pay all the fees to get your vehicle from the impound lot.
The Zebra lists each state’s penalties and monitoring methods:
- Alabama: $500 to $1000, passive monitoring
- Alaska: $500, passive monitoring
- Arizona: $500 to $1000, active monitoring
- Arkansas: $50 to $250, active monitoring
- California: $100 to $200, active monitoring
- Colorado: $500, active monitoring
- Connecticut: $100 to $1000, active monitoring
- Delaware: $1500 to $3000, passive monitoring
- Florida: $150 to $500, active monitoring
- Georgia: $25 to $185, active monitoring
- Hawaii: $500 to $5000, passive monitoring
- Idaho: $75 to $1000, passive monitoring
- Illinois: $500 to $1000, passive monitoring
- Indiana: $250 to $1000, passive monitoring
- Iowa: $250, passive monitoring
- Kansas: $300 to $2500, passive monitoring
- Kentucky: $500 to $1000, active monitoring
- Louisiana: $500 to $1000, active monitoring
- Maine: $100 to $500, passive monitoring
- Maryland: $1000 to $2500, active monitoring
- Massachusetts: $500 to $5000, passive monitoring
- Michigan: $200 to $500, passive monitoring
- Minnesota: $200 to $3000, passive monitoring
- Mississippi: $1000, passive monitoring
- Missouri: $500, passive monitoring
- Montana: $250 to $500, passive monitoring
- Nebraska: $50, passive monitoring
- Nevada: $250 to $1000, active monitoring
- New Hampshire: $0, passive monitoring
- New Jersey: $300 to $5000, active monitoring
- New Mexico: $300 to $1000, active monitoring
- New York: $150 to $1500. active monitoring
- North Carolina: $50 to $150, active monitoring
- North Dakota: $150 to $5000, passive monitoring
- Ohio: $160 to $660, passive monitoring
- Oklahoma: $250, active monitoring
- Oregon: $130 to $1000, passive monitoring
- Pennsylvania: $300, active monitoring
- Rhode Island: $100 to $1000, passive monitoring
- South Carolina: $100 to $550, active monitoring
- South Dakota: $100 to $500, passive monitoring
- Tennessee: $25 to $300, active monitoring
- Texas: $175 to $1000, active monitoring
- Utah: $400 to $1000, active monitoring
- Vermont: $500, passive monitoring
- Virginia: $500, active monitoring
- Washington: $550 to $1000, passive monitoring
- West Virginia: $200 to $5000, active monitoring
- Wisconsin: $510, passive monitoring
- Wyoming: $250 to $1500, passive monitoring
Many of these states have penalties in addition to fines. For example, Massachusetts will suspend your license for 60 days. In Wisconsin, you will need to file an SR-22 form and prove you are financially responsible before you can drive again. However, California will only suspend your license if you cause a traffic accident, not during a routine traffic stop.
According to ValuePenguin, if you want to avoid penalties, you’ll need to meet your state’s minimum car insurance requirements. These typically range from $20,000 to $50,000 of liability insurance. Some areas require personal injury protection or PIP, collision, and comprehensive insurance. Though some states do not require these additional coverages, they are recommended if you can afford them. You might be able to find auto insurance for as low as $50 per month.
What If I Live in a No-Fault State?
Some states have adopted no-fault laws. In these states, each driver involved in a traffic accident must file an insurance claim with their insurance provider, regardless of who caused the accident. In a no-fault system, your insurance company covers your personal injuries and property damage and not the other driver’s.
If you choose not to have insurance in a no-fault state when you get into a car accident, you won’t be allowed to file a claim with the other person’s insurance company even if you aren’t at fault. You will pay all medical bills, vehicle replacement or repairs, and more out of pocket.
Do I Need Insurance to Drive Someone Else’s Car?
Compare.com found if you have permission from the owner, their auto insurance policy will cover you in most cases. If the owner doesn’t have insurance, both the driver and the owner might face penalties. The policy’s terms will tell you if a friend can borrow your vehicle and if they will be insured.
How Do I Get Car Insurance?
It is possible to purchase auto insurance from a reputable company even if you have had a lapse in coverage. You probably won’t receive the lowest premiums possible because companies consider drivers with coverage lapses higher risk. Bankrate recommends shopping around to get the best prices available.
If you can afford decent auto insurance but are considered too high risk by insurance agents, you could get insurance through a state-sponsored program. Each program is different, though most are simply secondary markets for risky drivers with a history of accidents or violations. Auto insurance quotes are free and quick to receive.
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