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.
Thankfully, finding and comparing the best auto insurance quotes is easier than ever. You can use our online tool to view multiple companies at once and find the cheapest car insurance option for you. That way, you won’t have to risk the fees and penalties that come with driving uninsured. Just enter your ZIP code here to get started:
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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 $3,638, and the average auto liability claim for bodily injury is $15,270. 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 two 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.
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.
Think you’ll be fine if you’re a safe driver and never get pulled over by a police officer? 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.
Do I Need Insurance to Drive Someone Else’s Car?
Some people wonder, “Can I drive uninsured if the owner of the car has insurance?” Or: “When you’re 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 Are The Penalties For Driving Uninsured 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.
The penalty for driving without insurance in Arizona is a fine of $250 and a suspended license for up to three months. For the second offense within 36 months, the fine is at least $500, and a suspended license for up to six months.
For the third offense in that period, the penalty for driving without insurance is a fine of $750+ and a year-long suspension of your license. You’ll also need an SR-22 form to show proof of financial responsibility — and that gets expensive!
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.
Is it illegal to drive without insurance in Delaware? You’re looking at a fine of no less than $1,500 for the first offense and $3,000+ for subsequent violations within three years. On top of that, they will suspend your driving privileges for six months.
If you drive without insurance in Florida, the penalty includes suspension of your license plates and registration for up to three years (or until you provide proof of insurance) and a reinstatement fee of $150 to $500.
Driving without insurance in Georgia is considered a misdemeanor. A conviction means a fine between $200 and $1,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, or both.
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.
The penalties for driving without insurance in Illinois are steep: a fine of $500 to $1,000, a suspended driver’s license, and an extra $100 reinstatement fee.
If your license plates are suspended due to a previous insurance violation, you’ll have to pay another $1,000 fine, and you may also be required to file an annual SR-22, which will make your insurance rates go up.
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.
If you’re caught without insurance during a traffic stop in Louisiana, you can have your registration suspended, your license plates canceled, and your vehicle impounded. You may also have to pay a $500 fine, plus $60 in fees to reinstate your registration. And that’s just for a first offense — the cost goes up for subsequent convictions.
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.
You can be charged with a misdemeanor offense if a police officer catches you driving uninsured in Montana. For a first offense, there’s a penalty of $250 to $500 or up to 10 days in jail. A second offense means a minimum $350 fine or 10 days in jail. They can also revoke your driver’s license for 90 days, and you’ll get five points on your license.
If you’re caught driving without insurance a third time (or more), the penalties are a fine of $500, up to six months in jail, or both.
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.
The penalty for driving uninsured in Nevada includes suspension of your license and registration and a $251 reinstatement fee. If your insurance lapses for more than 30 days, you have to pay an additional fine of up to $1,000.
The second time you’re caught, the reinstatement fee rises to $501, and the fines may be $500 to $1,000. A third offense within five years gets even more expensive, with a maximum cost of $1,751 and a minimum 30-day license suspension.
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 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.
The penalties for driving without car insurance in North Dakota (which is considered a class B misdemeanor) include:
- A mandatory fine of at least $150
- The suspension of your license
- A $50 reinstatement fee
- The surrender your license plates after your second offense
If you’re caught driving without insurance in Ohio, you’ll lose your license, registration, and plates until you can prove that 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, then 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 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, which carries 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.
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 the event of 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.
Driving without insurance in Washington, D.C. can result in major fines. If you’re caught by police or by the District’s electronic verification system, you’ll have to pay a $150 fine for a lapse in insurance coverage from one to 30 days, plus $7 for each additional day, up to a maximum of $2,500. Your registration can also be suspended.
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.
Compare Car Insurance Policies in Your State
Is it illegal to drive without insurance? In most states, the answer is yes, and even in the two states where it isn’t illegal, it can still end up costing you big. Car insurance may be an unpleasant expense, but maintaining coverage can save you money in the long run. Simply enter your ZIP code here to compare the best rates in your state:
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