Some Important Insurance Laws
Wondering about penalties for driving without insurance in states?
The penalties for driving without insurance in states vary from one place to another, but there are consistencies. Insurance laws exist in all 50 states and the nation’s capital. It is always illegal to drive without insurance. There are no exceptions – really!
Some situations where people get caught driving without insurance include:
- Buying a new car and forgetting to put it on an active insurance policy
- Having a lapse in coverage after moving to a new state
- Having a lapse in coverage because of switching insurance providers
- Driving a “short distance” or in an emergency and getting pulled over
State insurance rules dictate that you have to hold a minimum amount of insurance. In every state, minimum car insurance includes a certain amount of Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability protection. If you don’t hold at least this level of insurance, it is just as bad as having none at all.
Luckily, car insurance companies are not allowed to offer policies with less protection.
In some states, you are required to hold Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance in addition to the others. PIP is a special kind of insurance that provides for your immediate medical needs in the wake of an accident. States that have PIP make it much less likely that you will need to sue another driver for your accident expenses.
Although it is rare, there are other kinds of insurance rules that may come into play.
A handful of states require you to have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist protection. An Uninsured Motorist policy kicks in if you are in an accident with someone who has no insurance at all. By contrast, Underinsured Motorist coverage is used if the other driver’s policy protections aren’t big enough to meet your expenses.
Your lender might require you to get additional insurance if you buy a new car, until it’s paid off.
In general, you need car insurance before you can:
- Register a vehicle in a state
- Buy a new vehicle from a dealer
- Drive a vehicle
State insurance rules generally allow teens to be on a parent’s car insurance policy until they are licensed. Then, they need their own insurance. As a rule of thumb, it is absolutely never okay to drive without car insurance.
Type of Penalties for Driving Without Insurance by State
Penalties for driving without car insurance typically fall into these categories:
1. Suspension of Driver’s License
Suspension of driver’s license is one of the automatic penalties for driving without insurance in most states. The suspension often happens immediately when you are stopped without proof of insurance. Even if you do have car insurance, you will need to prove it in a court hearing before you can drive legally.
Driver’s license suspension can last as little as 30 days if you get car insurance fast, or it can last six months or more in certain states. During a suspension, you are not allowed to drive. This is not the same thing as having your driver’s license revoked, where you may never be allowed to drive in that state again.
2. Suspension of Vehicle Registration
Registration suspension is another of the penalties for driving without insurance that is usually automatic, like license suspension. You may receive a letter in the mail ordering you to surrender your vehicle’s tags. Also, any law enforcement officer is permitted to seize the tags of a suspended vehicle in most states. If your registration is suspended, neither you nor anyone else will be allowed to drive the vehicle.
3. SR-22 Car Insurance Requirement
SR-22 is a special category of car insurance for high risk drivers. A court will frequently order someone to hold an SR-22 insurance policy if they have been caught driving without insurance. It is also used for people who have been caught driving without a license and those convicted of serious traffic violations.
SR-22 car insurance is more expensive than regular insurance, and it is almost always required if you are caught driving without insurance, even on a first offense. If you are required to get SR-22, you will often need to hold it for about three years. You can only cancel your insurance if you stop driving.
4. Fines and Reinstatement Fees
Even if you get insurance right away, you will be hit with a fine to reinstate your license and vehicle registration. That averages out to a few hundred dollars total. You’ll need to pay all fines before you are able to drive legally in your state again. Fines can go up if you face the same suspensions in the future.
5. Points on Your License
Most states use a point system to track traffic violations. You may be required to pay extra fines, go to driving school, or face license suspension if you accumulate too many points. Car insurance companies will charge you more in premiums the more points you have.
6. Jail Time
Many states enforce jail time for driving without insurance. Jail time usually ranges from 7-30 days, but there are some states where the sentence runs up to a year. Extended jail time is less likely on a first offense and becomes more likely with every subsequent offense.
Other Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance by State
Penalties for driving without insurance in states can also take other forms. Community service is less common these days, but it happens. Drivers who were convicted of other severe moving violations while without insurance may face supervised probation in lieu of or in addition to jail time.
Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky, and several other states in the Midwest and South provide for prison sentences of 3-5 years for multiple offenses, while drivers in Illinois can face extended jail time on first offense.
The average SR-22 requirement for driving without insurance lasts three years, but on subsequent offenses in Indiana, the requirement can be as high as five years. Mississippi also has a maximum 5-year requirement.
Can Your Vehicle Get Impounded for Not Having Insurance?
Yes! Your vehicle can get impounded for not having insurance. This is most common on a second and subsequent offense. It is much rarer on a first offense and before you have had a court hearing.
If your state impounds your vehicle, it may be towed at your expense. If you retain driving privileges, then you may be allowed to surrender the vehicle by driving it to the impound lot. You’ll only have a few days to do this, and must remove the license plate and tags and return them to the state separately.
If you see your vehicle get impounded for not having insurance, Texas has the strictest laws. On a second and subsequent offense, a vehicle can be impounded up to 180 days at a fee of $15 daily, totaling up to $2,700!
Never drive without insurance! So if you’re looking for the most affordable auto insurance in your state, Cheap Insurance is the right place to start. Here, you can compare auto insurance quotes online in just a few minutes!
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