Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Gianetta Palmer is a writer, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in EverydayHealth.com, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Reviewed by Gianetta Palmer
Content Writer & Published Author

UPDATED: Jul 5, 2021

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Most states require some auto insurance or other proof of financial responsibility to drive legally.

Each state determines its own minimum limits and other conditions that drivers need to meet in that state.

Consequences of Driving Without Car Insurance Coverage

Driving Without Car Insurance - Key Takeaways
Depending on your zip code, the increased cost of annual insurance premiums if you get caught driving without proper coverage is 12 to 25%.
The average fine for driving an uninsured motor vehicle is $100 to $500, plus service and reinstatement fees, depending on the state. Repeat offenses are higher fees and costs.
You will have license suspension until providing proof of insurance to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in all but one state, New Hampshire.

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Failing to meet these financial responsibility and insurance requirements can lead to penalties. They may include fees, impounding of your vehicle, loss or suspension of your license, or possibly jail time.

There are many reasons why your auto insurance may lapse, however, so you may be wondering what happens if you are caught as an uninsured driver?

What Happens if you Drive Without Insurance?

Since carrying auto insurance is compulsory in most states, you will likely face penalties if you are caught without proper insurance coverage.

The penalties may vary depending on your state and the circumstances under which you were caught driving without insurance.

PENALTIES FOR NOT HAVING PROOF OF INSURANCE

StateFineDriving privileges revokedAverage Premium with Proof of Insurance Violation
California$100-$400Privileges are revoked until you pay a $360 fine.$2,243
Michigan$200-$500$125 service fee to reinstate your license.$3,401
Florida$150-$500License and registration suspended unless proof is provided in five days.$2,670
New York$150-$1,500License and registration revoked for three years. $1,869
Ohio$160-$660Temporarily revoked with a reinstatement fee of $660$1,230
Texas$175-$1,000Temporarily suspended until you pay $175 - $300 with $250 annual surcharge.$1,764

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What are the Penalties for Getting Into an Accident While Driving Uninsured?

If you are involved in a car accident while uninsured, there are many penalties and consequences to consider. These fees add up quickly, costing much more than carrying insurance would have cost.

PENALTIES IF IN AN ACCIDENT FOR UNINSURED DRIVERS

StateFinesDriving Privilege
California$360–$720, penalty assessment fees includedMandatory one-year suspension, after which you can have your license reinstated if you maintain an SR-22 for three years.
Texas$175–350 plus an annual surcharge of $250 for three years plus any damages for the accident you were in, if you are liable, up to a maximum of $4,000Automatic suspension of vehicle registration and license for up to two years. File an SR-22 for three years after the accident.
Florida$150 reinstatement feeSuspended license until you have provided proof of insurance. SR-22 may be required depending on severity of accident.
New York$150–1500 and an additional civil penalty fee of $750Your license and registration will immediately be revoked for at least one year and up to three years

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Property Damage

If you are found liable in any way for an accident without insurance, you will have to pay the damages personally.

Even if the other party involved had insurance cover their losses, their carrier would come back to you to recover what they paid.

This would include costs to fix the vehicle, medical expenses, hospital bills, towing and storage fees, rental car costs, and lost wages if those were incurred.

This is a valid concern – the CDC data shows that about three million people are injured in car accidents every year in the US.

DMV fines

Your driver’s license and registration may be revoked if you get into an accident while uninsured.

The DMV will require fees to reinstate both.

Tickets

You will likely be ticketed for driving while uninsured in addition to any tickets resulting from actions that caused the car accident, such as ignoring traffic devices or speeding.

Tickets can be expensive, including administrative and punitive charges.

Impound fee

Some states may impound your vehicle at the scene of the car accident.

You would be responsible for paying to get your car out of impound, which is likely to include towing and storage charges as well as the fee.

Jail time

Some states may impose jail time or community service for uninsured drivers. This could cost you your job or home.

When are you At-Fault?

The above consequences apply, and you will face additional tickets for being the cause of the accident.

In most cases, the penalties will be more severe if you cause a car accident or if your actions contributed to it.

If you injure another person, you should expect to pay more.

When are you not At-Fault?

The same penalties apply even if you are not at fault for the loss. You will not incur additional tickets or fees for causing the accident, however.

But you will be responsible for your property damages and the other resulting costs for being uninsured.

When you Live in a No-Fault State?

If you live in a no-fault state, then you go back to your carrier for your injuries if you are injured in an auto accident.

No-fault laws were enacted to resolve minor lawsuits and help injured policyholders by allowing them to seek treatment before liability is established.

This means that if you are involved in an accident while uninsured and the other driver is injured, they will seek medical treatment through their carrier.

Their carrier will pay for the medical care and turn to you for reimbursement in the future through demand or lawsuit if you do not make payment.

License Suspension

If your license is suspended, you may still be able to apply for a conditional license. With that license, you can obtain car insurance.

Because of your suspended license, you may now be considered a higher-risk driver, which often results in higher rates.

It is worth shopping around to find the best rate for your situation.

Vehicle Impounded and Loss of Vehicle Registration

You may have to work with the DMV to restore your vehicle registration as well as your license.

There will likely be fees to reinstate your registration. If your vehicle is impounded, you need to pay for the towing and storage charges and impound fee before your car is released to you.

Some storage facilities charge daily rates, so it is vital to understand the cost may grow the longer your vehicle is held in storage.

Financial Consequences

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are several financial consequences if caught driving without a license.

You may face some or all of these expenses, depending on your situation.

It is often more expensive to face these consequences than it would have been to carry limited or the state’s minimum limits coverage.

How Much is the Fine for Driving Without Insurance?

Fines for driving without insurance vary by state and may depend on your circumstances.

For example, if you have been fined for the same offense in the past, your penalty might be higher. Fines can be steep, ranging up to $500 in some states.

While the fine itself varies, the ongoing costs are likely to be more costly to you in the long run.

Paying more for auto insurance due to a history of a lapse in coverage can be expensive over time as you are rated a high-risk driver.

STATE BY STATE PENALTIES FOR DRIVING WITHOUT INSURANCE

StateFine AmountJail TimeRegistration SuspensionLicense SuspensionConfiscate PlatesImpound CarPointsSR-22
AlabamaUp to $500 Yes     
Alaska$500 to $1,00090 days Yes   Yes, if in accident
Arizona$500 minimum YesYes    
Arkansas$500 minimum Yes     
California$100 to $200     Yes  
Colorado$500 minimumCommunity Service Yes  Four points 
Connecticut$100 to $1,00090 daysYesYes    
Delaware$1,500 to $2,000  YesYesYes   
D.C.Up to $500 fine90 daysYes Yes   
Florida$30 fine  YesYesYes  Yes
Georgia$200 to $1,0001 yearYesYes   Yes
Hawaii$500  Yes   Yes
Idaho$75  Yes   Yes
Illinois$500 to $1,000 YesYes    
IndianaUp to $1,000  Yes   Yes
Iowa$250   YesYes  
Kansas$300 to $1,0006 monthsYesYes    
Kentucky$500 to $1,00090 daysYesYes    
Louisiana$17530 days  YesYes  
Maine$100 to $500 YesYes   Yes
MarylandUp to $1,0006 monthsYes Yes Five points 
Massachusetts$5001 year Yes    
Michigan$200 to $5001 year Yes    
Minnesota$200 to $1,00090 daysYesYes Yes  
Mississippi$500  Yes    
Missouri$30015 daysYesYes  Four points 
Montana$250 to $50010 days      
NebraskaUp to $1,0006 monthsYesYes   Yes
Nevada$600 to $1,000  YesYesYesYes Yes
New HampshireInsurance not normally required Yes Yes    Yes 
New Jersey$300 to $1,000Community Service Yes    
New MexicoUp to $300 Yes Yes   
New York$150 to $1,50015 daysYesYes  Yes  
North CarolinaUp to $1,000  YesYesYes Three points 
North Dakota$150 minimum YesYes**   Yes
Ohio$100  Yes   Yes
OklahomaUp to $25030 days YesYesYes  
Oregon$130 to $1,000 YesYes Yes Yes
Pennsylvania$300 YesYes Yes  
Rhode Island$100 to $500 YesYes   Yes
South Carolina$445 currently YesYesYes  Yes
South Dakota$50030 days Yes   Yes
Tennessee$125 YesYes    
Texas$175 to $350       Yes
Utah$400 YesYes    
Vermont$47 to $622     Two points 
Virginia$500 YesYes   Yes
WashingtonUp to $250  Yes    
West Virginia$200 to $5,000 15 days to 1 yearYesYes    
WisconsinUp to $500 Yes Yes     
WyomingUp to $7506 monthsYesYes    

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How To Find Cheap Insurance for Uninsured Drivers?

If you have had a lapse in your auto insurance for any reason, it can be more difficult and more expensive to obtain coverage in the future.

AVERAGE RATES FOR STATE MINIMUM LIABILITY-ONLY COVERAGE

CompanyAverage 6-Month Premium
USAA$341
GEICO$344
Nationwide$365
Farmers$367
Progressive$398
State Farm$411
Allstate$432
Travelers$452
American Family$488

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A good starting point is to shop around and compare rates at AutoInsureSavings to find the right policy to fit your needs and budget following an uninsured period.

It is essential to continue to shop around for cheap car insurance rates in the future, as well – you may qualify for lower rates once you have re-established insurance for a period and keep a clean driving record.

Shop around at your renewal to be sure your rate remains the most competitive as your situation improves.

How Much do Insurance Rates Rise After a Driving Without Insurance Violation?

You will be classified as a high-risk driver after a driving without insurance violation, and your insurance rates will go up accordingly.

You could see premium increases between 12 to 25%, resulting in hundreds or thousands of dollars out of your wallet every year.

StateRate With InsuranceRate After Driving w/out Insurance Violation% Increase
California$1,977$2,24312%
North Carolina$1,230$1,62125%
Massachusetts$1,700$2,12621%
Alabama$1,312$1,62121%
Ohio$989$1,23019%
New Hampshire$1,230$1,46617%
Rhode Island$2,012$2,43018%
Delaware$1,870$2,23117%
Louisiana$2,302$2,67816%
Average Increase18%

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Is There a Grace Period if Your Car Insurance Lapses?

Most carriers allow a grace period of 10 to 20 days to make your payment current before your car insurance lapses. Check out your carrier for their specific timing.

They may work with you if you contact them before the insurance lapse to discuss a payment plan.

Consider shopping for a cheaper insurer or policy if you cannot afford your current policy. Insurers will notify the DMV immediately if your car insurance does lapse.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Legally Drive Without Insurance?

Most states mandate some limits of liability insurance for drivers in their state.

This is to protect other people by showing you have the resources to pay for the property damage you cause.

New Hampshire is the exception – they do not mandate car insurance, but they do require drivers to prove financial responsibility should they cause an accident.

Many states and police departments have online resources to verify insurance coverage in real-time situations, like while driving or scanning vehicles entering highways or parking structures.

Insurers, DMVs, and state departments have more resources now to link and share data.

Can my Vehicle be Towed if I do not Have Insurance?

In some states, yes. Your vehicle may be impounded and towed at your expense if you are caught driving without car insurance. In some states, this is at the discretion of the responding police officer.

What Happens if I am Caught Driving Without Insurance?

If caught driving without insurance, you will face many penalties. There will be fees and tickets from the police, administrative expenses from the DMV, and your car insurance in the future will be more expensive.

If in the event of an accident while uninsured, you will have additional costs, especially if someone is injured because of your actions.

It will likely be more expensive than carrying the minimum insurance limits would have been.

How to Learn More

To learn more about what happens if you drive without having car insurance, contact our experts today at AutoInsureSavings.org.

Our licensed professionals will be happy to answer any questions you have.

Methodology

AutoInsureSavings.org licensed insurance agents used average rates for 10 zip codes in each state from 5 carriers with full coverage and a $500 deductible.

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Sources

— III.org.  “Compulsory Auto/Uninsured Motorists.”
— III.org. “No-fault auto insurance.”
— CDC.gov. “Motor Vehicle Injury.”
— Carinsurance.com “Driving Without Insurance for Every State.”