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Q

In Washington state, if a vehicle is not insured, who gets the ticket - the registered owner (responsible for the insurance) or the driver (who assumed the car was insured)?


A

Washington State law requires anyone driving a motor vehicle in their state to have an insurance Liability policy, a certificate of deposit, or a liability bond to the required limits. If you have 26 or more vehicles, you may self-insure.

You have to have insurance in order to park it on the street or a parking lot.

If you choose to fulfill the WA motor vehicle financial responsibility law by obtaining auto insurance than you are required to have a Liability policy with limits of at least 25/50/10. This stands for the limits of Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability you must carry which is:

  • $25,000 for injury to another person per incident
  • $50,000 for injuries to all other persons per incident
  • $10,000 for damage to another's property

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, you must present an insurance identification card showing that either the vehicle or you are insured. Your insurance company must provide you with an identification card when they issue or renew your motor vehicle Liability policy. At your request, the company will provide a card or temporary proof of insurance for each vehicle covered under your policy.

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The insurance identification card must include the name of the insurance company, the policy number, and the policy's effective and expiration dates. It must also include a description of the insured vehicle(s) and/or the name of the insured driver.

If you do not carry proof of insurance and you are stopped by law enforcement, the state considers it a traffic infraction. You will receive a $450 fine and it may go on your driving record. The courts could add other fees to your fines, such as a public safety and education assessment, which is 70 percent of all fines.

Since all motorists, not just the registered owner of a car, is required to make sure they have insurance on them to drive on the roadway the driver can get the ticket for driving without insurance, even if they are not the owner of the vehicle. It is the responsibility of the driver when using someone else's car to know where the registration and proof of insurance is and to know that they both are valid.

Some states do allow you to transfer a ticket for no proof of insurance from a driver to the car owner, however we did not see where this was an option in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) however if you are a driver that was cited for driving an uninsured vehicle that you are not the owner of you can contact the court on your ticket to see if is an option.

Reading through the WA laws that pertain to mandatory liability insurance may help you if you were ticketed for no insurance. A couple of specific areas to read would be RCW 46.30.10 which notes that it is a privilege granted by the state to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways of this state. The legislature recognizes the threat that uninsured drivers are to the people of the state. In order to alleviate the threat posed by uninsured drivers it is the intent of the legislature to require that all persons driving vehicles registered in this state satisfy the financial responsibility requirements of this chapter.

Also RCW 46.30.20 which states:

(1)(a) No person may operate a motor vehicle subject to registration under chapter 46.16 RCW in this state unless the person is insured under a motor vehicle liability policy with liability limits of at least the amounts provided in RCW 46.29.090, is self-insured as provided in RCW 46.29.630, is covered by a certificate of deposit in conformance with RCW 46.29.550, or is covered by a liability bond of at least the amounts provided in RCW 46.29.090. Written proof of financial responsibility for motor vehicle operation must be provided on the request of a law enforcement officer in the format specified under RCW 46.30.030.

(b) A person who drives a motor vehicle that is required to be registered in another state that requires drivers and owners of vehicles in that state to maintain insurance or financial responsibility shall, when requested by a law enforcement officer, provide evidence of financial responsibility or insurance as is required by the laws of the state in which the vehicle is registered.

(c) When asked to do so by a law enforcement officer, failure to display an insurance identification card as specified under RCW 46.30.030 creates a presumption that the person does not have motor vehicle insurance.

(d) Failure to provide proof of motor vehicle insurance is a traffic infraction and is subject to penalties as set by the supreme court under RCW 46.63.110 or community restitution.

So from what we have read on the subject the driver who is operating the car at the time of the traffic stop is who is cited for driving without insurance in Washington State if they cannot show proof of insurance to law enforcement. Though they may have assumed the car was properly insured it is their responsibility to make sure that there is valid insurance on the car and that proof of such insurance can be shown upon request.

A legal expert from Washington State could tell you if the car owner could have the ticket transferred to them if the driver was the one originally cited as we mentioned earlier. Also a lawyer or the police could tell you if the car owner could also receive a ticket, along with the driver, for allowing someone to operate their uninsured vehicle. While we did not see this in Title 16 of the RCW in many states the owner can be penalized for allowing someone to drive their vehicle when they know there is no insurance on the car to cover any accidents the driver may have.

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1 Responses to "In Washington state, if a vehicle is not insured, who gets the ticket - the registered owner (responsible for the insurance) or the driver (who assumed the car was insured)?"
  1. Anonymous

    it does not say if you have to have insurance or not to park your car on the street or in a parking lot.

      Reply»