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What Happens If You Are Caught Driving Without Car Insurance?

Alexa Goyette

Unless you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, you are legally required to have a bare bones car insurance policy to operate an automobile. Since every state has different minimum requirements for insurance, every state handles uninsured drivers differently, some with more severe punishments than others.

Some people choose not to invest in auto insurance because it’s too expensive. However, the punishments someone can face if he or she is caught driving without auto insurance are too severe to take this risk. The potential penalties you could face after driving without insurance range from a fine to a prison sentence.

Paying a Fine

In California, one of the most lenient states in regard to driving without insurance, a first offense results in a fine ranging from $100 to $200. This fine is a mere fraction of what many other states require following a first offense. In addition to a fine, you’ll need to pay a fine issued on the traffic ticket you will receive.


Drivers License Suspension

Naturally, states want to keep people who break road laws off the roads. Many uninsured drivers have their licenses suspended after they are caught driving without car insurance. In some states, the suspension time is fixed, while others cancel your suspension once the driver files an SR-22 or shows proof of insurance. Along with the hefty fine of $1,500 the state of Delaware imposes upon uninsured drivers with their first offenses, its license suspension period is one of the longest of the 50 states, at 6 months.


Vehicle Impoundment

Driving without insurance may result in the impoundment of your vehicle and the loss of your registration, both of which you may not gain back until you can prove that you invested in insurance. In New Jersey, driving without insurance may result in your vehicle being stripped of its registration and impounded. The longer a vehicle is impounded, the more money you will need to pay.


Prison Sentence

Paying a fee and experiencing a suspended license are punishments no driver wants to face, but they pale in comparison to another potential punishment, time in prison. In some states, driving without insurance is considered a misdemeanor offense, so jail time may be a repercussion. Michigan issues up to one year of jail time to uninsured drivers. Other states, like Montana and New Mexico, provide uninsured drivers with lesser sentences. If you’re uninsured, this should light a fire under you to start shopping for auto insurance quotes.


Proof of Future Financial Responsibility

In some states, such as Arizona, people who drive without insurance are required to have an SR-22 certificate for a period of time before reinstating their licenses. After a first offense in Arizona, drivers are required to have this certificate for two years. SR-22 forms can be quite costly, and the longer someone is required to have an SR-22 form, the more it will cost.

Driving without insurance will result in negative consequences in most states. With the threats of high fines, vehicle impoundment, and especially jail time in check, it’s worth it to invest in auto insurance, whether you invest in full coverage insurance of if you simply purchase the minimum amount required in your state.