Is Driving Without Insurance Illegal in Your State?
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Insurance premiums can be tough to fit into your budget. So when things are tight, you may wonder: “Do I really need car insurance? Can I get away with not having it? And what’s the penalty for driving without insurance?”
Here’s the short answer: It’s illegal to drive without car insurance in all but two states. And you’ll almost certainly get caught, either by the police or by the state’s verification system. Plus, the consequences of driving without insurance can be severe – not to mention expensive. Illegal or not, it just isn’t worth the risk.
- Driving without insurance is illegal in all U.S. states except New Hampshire and Virginia.
- Penalties for driving without auto insurance vary by state but can include points on your driver’s license, fines, jail time, license and vehicle registration suspension, and other fees.
- Liability-only, pay-as-you-go, and temporary car insurance are alternatives to consider before risking driving without insurance.
What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?
Every state has its own minimum insurance requirements, and tickets, fines, and other punishments for driving without car insurance depend on the state where you live.
In general, the penalties may include:
- A fine
- Jail time
- Points on your license
- The suspension of your license, registration, and/or plates
- Having your vehicle impounded
- Court fees and reinstatement fees
- The requirement to file an SR-22. An SR-22, sometimes called a certificate of financial responsibility, is filed with the state to prove you have car insurance. If you’re required to have an SR-22, you’re considered a high-risk driver, which means your insurance will be considerably more expensive.
If you think you’ll be fine if you’re a safe driver and never get pulled over by a police officer, think again. Many law enforcement departments use Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) to match license plates with a database of uninsured drivers so you can get caught even if you never get a traffic ticket.
Some states also have a “no pay, no play” law. This means that if you’re hurt in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, and you don’t have car insurance coverage, there may be a limit on how much you can collect in damages from the at-fault party.
In Michigan, an uninsured driver may have to pay for other people’s injuries and losses, even if the uninsured driver didn’t cause the crash.
Let’s take a look at how each state treated driving without insurance.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Your State
How much is the cost of driving without insurance? In most states, it falls somewhere between the cost of a minor traffic violation and a serious offense like a DUI. Be aware, however, that laws may change, and the penalties for driving uninsured can vary, so always look for the most updated information from your specific state.
Here’s the penalty for driving without an auto insurance policy in each state:
The first-time penalty for driving without insurance in Alabama is a fine of up to $500 and suspended registration of the vehicle. You’ll have to pay $200 to reinstate it. For repeat offenders, the fine can go up to $1,000, and you’ll have to pay a $400 reinstatement fee.
In Alaska, driving without car insurance can lead to a $500 fine and suspension of your license for up to a year, depending on your violations. Your vehicle may be impounded, which means you have to pay to get it back.
Driving without car insurance in Arizona results in an automatic license and vehicle registration suspension. You’ll have to pay a fine of $968.30 if you’re found guilty of your first offense. The fine for the second offense is $1,425.80, and $1883.30 for third and subsequent offenses.
All fines must be paid to reinstate your license and vehicle registration. Most drivers also have to get SR-22 insurance to prove financial responsibility for at least three years.
Arkansas has an automated system that tracks insurance status on all vehicles, and if your car insurance lapses, you’ll automatically have to pay a $100 fine. Additionally, if you don’t get a new insurance policy within a month, the vehicle’s registration will be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The penalty for being caught driving without insurance is a fee of $50 to $250. Police can seize your license plate if they pull you over and you don’t have an insurance card or other proof of insurance.
A second offense carries a mandatory $250 to $500 fine, and a third offense may mean up to a year in jail plus a fine of up to $1,000.
The fine for driving without insurance in California is $100 to $200, and law enforcement can impound your car as well. If you’re caught again within three years, your fine will be between $200 and $500, plus assessments.
If you provide a fake insurance card in California, that’s considered a misdemeanor, so the penalties get a lot worse. You can get up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $750. Plus, you’ll lose your license for a year.
When punishing uninsured drivers, Colorado does not play around. For a first offense, the penalty is a minimum $500 fine and revocation of your license until you can prove that you’re insured. You’ll also get four points on your license.
Drive uninsured a second time, and you’ll pay a minimum fine of $1,000 and have your license suspended for four months. A third offense means a minimum $1,000 fine and license suspension for eight months. You may also have to perform up to 40 hours of community service if ordered by the court.
If you’re caught driving without insurance in Connecticut, you may have to pay a fine of $100 to $1,000. Not only that, but if you own an uninsured vehicle, you can be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500, imprisonment up to three months, or both. There are more penalties, such as:
- Your driver’s license and registration are suspended for one month for a first conviction or six months for later convictions.
- You pay a fee of $200 to restore your license and registration.
- They can seize your vehicle.
Delaware drivers can face up to six months of jail time and a $500-to-$1,000 fine for driving without insurance. The state could also impound your vehicle for at least three months.
The fine increases for the second and subsequent offenses, up to $4,000 per offense. Imprisonment can range from 60 days to one year, and you could lose your car for a year or more while it sits in the impound lot.
If you’re found guilty of driving without insurance in Florida, you’ll pay a fine of up to $500. The second offense increases the fines to up to $1,000.
Subsequent offenses are treated as a felony, which requires a minimum of 10 days in jail. You’ll pay a fine of up to $1,000 and could face additional jail time of up to five years.
Regardless of whether it’s your first offense or third, the state may suspend your license and registration and impound your vehicle, and you won’t get them back until you provide proof of insurance and pay towing and impound fees.
If the court doesn’t accept a “no-contest” plea, you’ll have to pay a $200 reinstatement fee and prepay six months of car insurance meeting Georgia’s minimum insurance coverage requirements.
Reinstatement fees increase to $300 for the second and subsequent offenses — plus, you’ll have to file an SR-22 form for three years. The state will also automatically suspend your driver’s license for 90 days.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Hawaii include a fine of $500 for the first offense and $1,500 for each subsequent violation that occurs within five years. You’ll also have your license suspended for three months for the first conviction or one year for later convictions. Multiple convictions for driving uninsured in Hawaii could result in up to 30 days in jail, suspended registration, and the impoundment of your car.
The first time you’re caught driving without insurance in Idaho, you have to pay a $75 fine. No big deal, right? But be careful. If it happens a second time within five years, that’s a misdemeanor. In that case, you’re facing a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail, so it’s better to just maintain car insurance coverage.
You could face hefty fines for driving without auto insurance in Illinois. The first offense can come with a fine between $500 and $1,000, a license suspension for three months, and a restoration fee of $100.
For third and subsequent offenses, the fine increases to $1,000 and a three-year SR-22 requirement. If the charge is brought as a Class A misdemeanor, you’ll pay another $2,500 maximum fine and may spend some time in jail.
Caught driving without insurance in Indiana? You’ll have your license suspended for at least 90 days, and you’ll have to pay a $250 fee to get it back. You’ll also have to carry an SR-22 for three years.
Get caught a second time, and you’ll lose your license for a year and pay a $500 fee; a third time and the reinstatement fee goes up to $1,000.
The penalty for driving without insurance in Iowa may include paying a fine of $250 or doing community service. They can impound your license plates and/or your vehicle, and you’ll also have to pay the towing, storage, and administrative fees.
In Kansas, driving without car insurance is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $300 to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail. If you’re caught a second time within three years, you’ll be looking at a fine of $800 to $2,500, plus a driver’s license suspension.
The penalty for driving without insurance in Kentucky is having your vehicle registration revoked. The vehicle’s owner and driver may also pay a fine of $500 to $1,000 and/or serve up to 90 days in jail.
Louisiana can dole out severe penalties for driving without insurance. Fines range from $500 to $1,000, plus additional penalties for not having proof of insurance or continuous coverage. The state could suspend your driving privileges, cancel your license plates, or revoke your vehicle registration.
If you cause a car accident, you could lose your license and registration for 180 days, or up to 18 months if you lie about having insurance.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Maine are pretty straightforward: a fine of $100 to $500 and the suspension of your driver’s license and registration. Reinstatement will cost $50, plus $20 to $30 for a new license and $35 for a new vehicle registration.
In Maryland, letting your insurance lapse can get expensive. You’ll have to pay $150 in uninsured motorist penalty fees for the first 30 days without insurance and then $7 for each additional day, up to a max of $2,500. And that’s just for an insurance lapse!
If the police catch you driving without insurance, that’s a misdemeanor, and the penalty is five points on your license, a $1,000 fine, and up to one year in jail. A second offense results in an additional five points, up to two years in jail, and a fine of $2,000.
For a first offense in Massachusetts, you may have to pay $500. The courts can suspend your license for 60 days, and you’ll have to pay an additional $500 to get it reinstated. For further convictions, your license can be suspended for up to one year, the fine increases to a max of $5,000, and you could even face a year in jail for driving without insurance.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Michigan include a fine between $200 and $500, up to a year in jail, and the suspension of your license and registration.
Driving uninsured in Minnesota is a misdemeanor that results in a fine of $200 to $1,000, although you can perform community service if you can’t afford to pay. You’ll also face suspension of your license, plates, and registration. You’ll have to pay $30 and show proof of insurance to reinstate them. Jail time is also a possibility.
Driving without insurance in Mississippi is a misdemeanor, which means a $100 fine, up to $400 in additional fees, and the suspension of your license until you prove you have insurance. If you fail to maintain insurance, the penalty is $1,000 and suspension of driving privileges for one year or until you show proof of insurance.
In Missouri, the penalty for driving uninsured is pretty light for your first offense. Failing to provide proof of insurance is a misdemeanor. You’ll get four points on your license, and it will be suspended until you pay $20 to reinstate it.
However, a second offense means up to 15 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500, plus a 90-day license suspension and a $200 reinstatement fee. Additional convictions add a year-long suspension and a $400 reinstatement fee.
The consequences of driving without insurance coverage in Montana are minimal for the first offense: a fine between $250 and $500. The second offense increases to $350, with third and subsequent offenses fines rising to $500, possible jail time up to 10 days, or both.
Repeat offenders have more serious consequences after the second offense. You must surrender your vehicle registration plate and receipt for 90 to 180 days until you provide proof of current insurance and pay all applicable reinstatement fees.
You could also lose your driver’s license altogether after the fourth offense.
Citations for driving without insurance in Nebraska go to the owner of the vehicle – not the driver if they’re operating someone else’s car. The penalty is having your license and registration suspended. You must file an SR-22 for three years and pay a $50 reinstatement fee to get them back.
Nevada’s fines and fees for driving without insurance depend on how long your coverage lapses and how many prior lapses you’ve had.
Fees for the first offense are $250, and fines range from $250 to $1,000 depending on the length of the lapse. Fees increase to $500 for the second and $750 for the third and subsequent offenses within five years. For a lapse greater than 31 days, fines are $500, or $1,000 after 181 days or more for the second and subsequent offenses.
For the first and second offenses, an SR-22 is required for a lapse of over 90 days. For third and subsequent offenses, SR-22 is required after the first day, with a minimum 30-day license suspension period.
Driving without insurance in NJ can be a very, very expensive mistake. A first offense means a fine of $300 to $1,000, an extra DMV surcharge of $250 to be paid each year for three years, community service, and the suspension of your license for one year.
A second offense is even worse: a fine of up to $5,000, a mandatory sentence of 14 days in jail, community service, and a two-year license suspension.
In New Mexico, driving without insurance results in a fine of up to $300 and/or up to 90 days in jail. Your registration will be suspended, too.
The penalty for driving without car insurance (or letting someone else drive your uninsured vehicle) in New York State is a fine of up to $1,500 or up to 15 days in jail. The courts will revoke your license and registration for at least a year, and you’ll have to pay $750 for reinstatement. Not only that, but New York charges a daily penalty for insurance lapses: $8 to $12 per day, depending on the length of the lapse.
Driving without insurance in North Carolina is a misdemeanor that can result in the suspension of your vehicle registration for up to 30 days. The penalty for letting your insurance lapse ranges from $50 for the first occurrence (plus a $50 restoration fee) to $150 (plus the fee) for a third or subsequent lapse.
North Dakota works on a point-and-fine system. The first offense of driving without insurance comes with six points and a minimum $150 fine. A second offense within 18 months gives you 12 points (14 if you’re involved in an accident) and a minimum $300 penalty.
If you get more than 12 points assessed, the state will suspend your license.
If you’re caught driving without insurance in Ohio, you’ll lose your license, registration, and plates until you can prove you have insurance. You’ll also have to pay a $100 reinstatement fee and maintain special high-risk insurance for at least three years.
A second offense carries a one-year suspension and a $300 reinstatement fee; a third or subsequent offense means a two-year suspension and a $600 fee.
Driving uninsured in OK? You’ll have to pay a fine of up to $250 and/or serve a 30-day jail term. Your car may be impounded, and your license plates may be seized, which means you’ll have to pay the storage fees and a $125 fee to get your plates back.
Driving uninsured in Oregon can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and a suspended license. To get it back, you’ll need to file an SR-22 for the next three years.
If you’re caught driving without insurance in Pennsylvania, you’ll get hit with a laundry list of penalties:
- A minimum $300 fine
- A three-month suspension of your vehicle registration and license — or a $500 fee to get your registration reinstated sooner
- A fee to restore your vehicle registration
- A fee to restore your driver’s license
The penalties for driving uninsured in Rhode Island include a suspension of your license and registration for up to three months and a fine of $100 to $500 for a first offense. The second time, penalties increase to a six-month suspension and a $500 fine. Once you drive with a suspended license more than three times, your license/registration may be suspended for up to one year, and you could be fined $1,000.
If you’re a vehicle owner in South Carolina, your insurance provider will notify the DMV if you cancel your policy, and you’ll receive notice that you must have your new insurer verify your coverage within 20 business days.
If your coverage isn’t confirmed, your driving privileges, license plate, and registration will be suspended, and you may have to pay up to $400 to have them reinstated.
If you’re caught driving without insurance coverage, your license and registration will be suspended until you pay a $600 uninsured motorist fee, and you must also get your insurance company to file an SR-22 for three years.
Driving uninsured in South Dakota is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $100 to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail. Your license will be suspended for at least 30 days, and you’ll have to pay a reinstatement fee and file an SR-22 insurance to get it back.
The penalties for driving without car insurance in Tennessee (a class C misdemeanor) include:
- A fine of up to $300
- The suspension of your driver’s license and registration
- The impoundment of your vehicle
- Extra fees to get your license, registration, and vehicle back
- Filing an SR-22
Driving without insurance in Texas can result in penalties for years to come. First-time offenders pay a fine of up to $350, plus court costs and additional fees. Then, you’re stuck paying a surcharge to the DMV of $250 per year for the next three years.
A second offense carries a fine of up to $1,000 plus the same surcharge. However, if you show proof of insurance and prepay your six-month premium, you may be able to get the surcharge dropped to $125 per year.
In Utah, driving without insurance is a Class B misdemeanor, with a fine of at least $400 for a first offense and $1,000 for additional violations within three years. Your license and registration will be suspended, and you won’t get them back until you show proof of insurance and pay reinstatement fees.
You must pay a $100 fee to reinstate your vehicle registration and provide proof of insurance, which is required for three years.
The penalty for driving uninsured in Vermont is a fine up to $500, an assessment of points on your license, and/or suspension of your license. Failure to show proof of insurance means a fine of up to $100.
Virginia allows you to drive without car insurance if you pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee – but this doesn’t protect you in a car accident. If you don’t pay this fee, the penalty for driving uninsured in VA includes paying a $600 non-compliance fee and the suspension of your license, registration, and plates.
To get your driving privileges back, you’ll have to pay a reinstatement fee and file an SR-22 for three years.
The penalties for driving uninsured in Washington include a possible fine of $550 or more and having your license suspended.
The District of Columbia assesses civil penalties as well as vehicle registration or reciprocity sticker suspension if you don’t provide current proof of insurance within 30 days.
The first offense comes with a suspended license for 30 days, a $500 fine, or both. The civil fine increases by 50% for each subsequent offense, and your license could be suspended for up to 60 days, or both.
The district won’t lift your suspension until you provide proof of vehicle liability insurance to the DMV and pay all applicable fines and reinstatement fees.
In Wisconsin, driving without insurance can result in a fine of up to $500 — plus a fine of $10 for failing to show proof of insurance. Trying to get away with a fraudulent proof of insurance card can mean a considerable fine of up to $5,000.
In Wyoming, a first offense can mean a fine of $250 to $750 and/or up to six months in jail. A second offense may result in a fine of $500 to $1,500 and/or up to six months in jail, as well as losing your registration and license plates.
Financial Implications of Driving Without Insurance
You’re taking a huge financial risk if you drive without insurance, especially if you get into an accident. Besides fines and reinstatement fees, you could be found legally responsible if you cause the accident and have to pay for the other party’s medical expenses and vehicle repairs.
The average cost of property damage per vehicle is $5,700, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Your per-person economic and comprehensive costs can range from $23,700 for no injuries to over $260,000 with evident injuries. The costs are over $1.2 million for disabling injuries and more than $14 million if you kill someone in an auto accident.
Plus, your future car insurance premiums will be higher because of the insurance lapse. And if you have to reinstate your driver’s license and vehicle registration after suspension, you’ll pay even more fines and restoration fees.
Why Is It Illegal to Drive Without Insurance?
Driving a motor vehicle without insurance is illegal because the cost of a car accident can be financially devastating for you and everyone involved.
If you’re in an at-fault accident and you have liability insurance, then your car insurance policy will cover the claims filed by the person you hit. If you don’t have insurance, then you’ll have to pay for the victim’s medical bills, car repairs, and other losses out of your own pocket — or risk getting sued.
In the United States, the average auto liability claim for property damage is $5,314, and the average auto liability claim for bodily injury is $22,734. Can you afford to pay those amounts out of pocket? And those are just averages — in some cases, the victim of a car accident has sued the at-fault driver for millions.
In only two states — New Hampshire and Virginia — it’s technically legal to drive without car insurance. But you’ll still have to pay for damages if you cause a car accident, and in Virginia, you have to pay $500 for the privilege of driving uninsured.
If you live in one of these states, think carefully before opting out of bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. You never know what will happen on the road, and you don’t want to end up on the hook for damages you can’t afford.
Alternatives to Driving Without Insurance
Driving without insurance isn’t worth the civil penalties, legal consequences, and out-of-pocket expenses you could face as an uninsured driver. There are other, cheaper alternatives to getting behind the wheel without having the minimum car insurance requirements in place.
Let’s go over a few of them.
Liability insurance protects others when you’re driving but doesn’t cover your vehicle. If you cause a collision, you’ll have the coverage to protect others if they suffer bodily injury or property damage you cause.
Getting pay-as-you-go insurance can be another affordable option. Pay-by-mile insurance companies like Metromile allow you to pay a low base rate and then a per-mile rate for each mile driven.
If you don’t drive much, you could save substantially compared to a traditional car insurance policy and still meet your state’s legal requirements.
Temporary car insurance
You might decide to take your chances and drive uninsured if you only need temporary car insurance coverage. That’s where auto insurance companies like Hugo come in.
Hugo’s Flex plan allows you to purchase an applicable insurance policy that you can turn on and off, so you only pay for coverage when you need it.
Driving Without Insurance FAQs
Being an uninsured motorist can create severe financial consequences and legal penalties. We answered some of the most common questions about driving without insurance below.
How do you get car insurance when you are uninsured?
Speaking with an insurance agent if you’re uninsured is a good idea. They can help you get the coverage you need, and your state requires at the best price.
Expect to pay higher rates because of the coverage gap. Car insurance-comparison sites are another great option if you prefer an online experience.
Do you need insurance to drive someone else’s car?
Some people wonder, “Can I drive uninsured if the car’s owner has insurance?” Or: “When borrowing someone else’s car, does the insurance come with it?”
These are tricky questions. In general, as long as you have their permission to drive the vehicle, then the owner’s policy should cover property damage and bodily injury liability – but that depends on the insurance provider and the terms of their policy. If the car is not insured, then both the driver and the owner may face penalties.
Before you drive someone else’s car, it’s wise to research the laws in your state and ask them about the terms of their insurance policy.
What is the penalty in California for driving without insurance?
California drivers caught driving without insurance can pay up to $200 in fines, and the state may impound your car.
The penalty can be as high as $500 if caught again within three years. You could get a $750 fine and up to 30 days in jail if you provide a fake insurance card.
What happens in Ohio if you get caught driving without insurance?
If you get caught driving without insurance in Ohio, you’ll lose your driver’s license, license plates, and registration until you provide proof of financial responsibility.
The reinstatement fee is $100 for the first offense, $300 for the second, and $600 for the third and subsequent offenses. You’ll also have to carry high-risk insurance for three to five years.
- Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance.” Accessed October 19, 2023.
- National Safety Council. “Guide to Calculating Costs.” Accessed October 19, 2023.
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