You forgot to pay your latest car insurance payment or maybe just decided that you did not have enough this month to pay your auto insurer and would risk driving on the road without insurance. Then fate catches up with you and you are either stopped for a traffic offense or even worse you are in an accident and found to be without the state required car insurance coverages or other financial responsibility securities, what will happen to you now? (You'll find requirements for every state on our state car insurance rates page.)
The consequences for driving without insurance varies from state to state but many courts hand down harsh penalties for this violation of the law. If you were at-fault in an accident then the penalties usually even become greater, including restitution for the damages the other party sustained.
When you are pulled over and are found without insurance the officer should cite you for the original reason he or she stopped you (speeding, running a red light, etc) and if you cannot produce proper proof of insurance or show an expired / invalid insurance card then you will be cited for driving without insurance. In some states, your vehicle tag can be seized and your car impounded. In addition, some states impose heavy fines for those who drive without auto insurance. Some states only fine the driver a fee of $150 to $1000 for driving without insurance while others will have jail time as a possible penalty.
As mentioned above the consequences can be far more serious if you are involved in an accident and do not have insurance. You may have to comply with the financial responsibility laws usually by filing a SR22 for a certain period of time and having to pay for any injuries or damages out of your own pocket. Being held personally responsible for injuries and property damages can be very costly and put your own assets at risk if the person was severely injured and/or the car you hit has extensive damage.
When you are stopped for a moving violation and you are unable to show proof of insurance you will be ticketed and required to attend court usually to either show proof of insurance that was valid at the time of the citation or have penalties handed to you. This type of violation is typically added to your driving record and it can stay on your driving record between 3 to 10 years depending on your state's motor vehicle record laws.
Some states consider serious traffic violations to be a criminal violation as well. In cases where DUI leads to a fatality or even reckless driving in a few states can be considered a criminal offense. So if you are involved in a more serious violation and you do not have insurance, it could be considered a criminal offense. Criminal offenses usually incur more severe penalties and these violations stay on your criminal record permanently.
If you drive a vehicle around without insurance not only will you be cited and penalized according to your state laws for driving without financial responsibility but when you do try to reinstate your lapsed coverage or obtain an auto insurance policy on your vehicle you may find it difficult to do so. Insurance companies find that a person that has previously let their insurance lapse and especially those that have their insurance cancelled for non-payment are risky to have as policyholders since they have a history of not paying for their insurance.
State laws differ so the repercussions for driving without insurance also differ. If you are stopped and found driving without insurance you may have your car impounded at the scene or you may be allowed to drive away with a citation and court date. The penalties at court range from a stiff fine to license and registration suspension, jail time (especially for second or subsequence offenses for driving without insurance) and if you were at fault in an accident a payment in full or payment plan for the other parties' damages.
Specific state examples of penalties for driving without insurance include in California failing to show proof of car insurance can result in fines of up to $500 plus impounding of the vehicle and suspension of the person's driver's license.
In Florida the DMV can suspend your driving privilege including your vehicle registration and tag for up to 3 years or until proof of insurance is provided. If you did not have the state required insurance coverage at the time of your citation, you must purchase it and have it certified on a SR-22 form for 3 years. If you were in an at-fault accident without insurance you would also need to obtain releases from the victims saying that they were compensated fully for their bodily injuries and/or property damages.
The above requirements must be met in FL by a specific date that the state would advise you of to prevent suspension of your tags and registration as well as your driver's license. If you had no car insurance and receive a judgment against you, the Bureau of Financial Responsibility will suspend your license, tags and registration for up to 20 years or until the entire judgment is satisfied.
Most all states within the United States take an uninsured driver pretty seriously. If you are pulled over and found to be without insurance the steps taken by law enforcement will vary depending upon state laws so you may be able to drive away and take care of the citation in court or you may find that your car will be impounded since it is not legal to drive on the roadways without insurance.
Once you are cited you will face penalties ranging from fines, suspensions, jail time, etc. Buying insurance before your court date may help your case, the clerk of the court can likely tell you if it will. You will likely need to tell the insurance provider that you are facing a driving without insurance conviction so may need to start filing a SR-22 (certificate of financial responsibility) with the state.
To find out what your specific state laws are and thus the penalties for driving a vehicle without proper insurance, contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.To get insurance on your vehicle so that you will not get pulled over and ticket for being an uninsured motorist contact CarInsurance.com.