Driving with no car insurance is an offense that carries penalties in every state. These penalties include fines, surcharges, and even jail time. Also, the penalties for driving uninsured vary from state to state.

“The rule of law requires that all automobile drivers must maintain an active insurance policy. This rule is in recognition of the risks and dangers that are inherent to the activity of driving. If everybody drove on the public roads without maintaining their insurance policy, then the bonds of trust that make our society function would break down,” says David Reischer, attorney at LegalAdvice.com Corp.

This guide will help you find out what penalties you could face if you get caught driving with no car insurance in your state.

Key Highlights
  • In many states, if you’re caught driving without car insurance your registration and license will be revoked.
  • You will be considered a high-risk driver after a violation for driving without insurance.
  • Rather than driving without insurance try to fulfill the minimum liability insurance requirement in your state to drive legally.
  • You can save money on your car insurance as a high risk driver by comparing insurance quotes from different companies.

What happens if you drive without insurance?

You’re putting yourself at risk in more ways than one if you drive without insurance. The lapse in your coverage after driving without insurance will cost you, on average, 10% more when you finally get a new policy in place.

But the no insurance penalty is much higher in some states. For instance, in California, the average driver faces a 36% hike, and in Massachusetts and North Carolina you’ll see increases of about 30%, CarInsurance.com rate data show.

What happens if you don’t have car insurance and you get in an accident?

Additionally, the penalties for no insurance vary by state. More importantly, if you get in an accident, you’re on the hook to pay for the damages.

For example, in California, if you drive uninsured and get in an accident, you could lose your license for up to four years, whether or not the accident was your fault. After a year, you may be able to get your license back if you get insurance, provide proof to the motor vehicle department and pay a reinstatement fee.

Bear in mind you will also be required to file an SR-22 form to show proof of financial responsibility. You are additionally responsible for all the costs associated with the accident. Even if the other driver has uninsured motorist coverage and his insurer compensates him, his insurance company will likely sue you to recover its costs. This means you could lose your assets and home if the cost of the damage exceeds the amount of money you can pay.

What is the Penalty for driving without insurance?

Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid an accident while driving without car insurance, in many states your registration and license will be revoked if you’re cited. You have to pay a fine and your car may be impounded. Rather than driving without insurance, consider buying the cheapest car insurance you can get. This would be the minimum liability insurance requirement in your state to drive legally. In some states, minimum coverage costs less than $400 a year.

David Reischer, attorney at LegalAdvice.com Corp., said penalties against uninsured drivers are often too lenient. Uninsured drivers who injure people in accidents leave the injured party with no recourse except suing the uninsured driver, Reischer said.

“This is simply unfair to all the other drivers that play by the rules and maintain their automobile insurance policy to compensate an injured party. Any person that cannot afford automobile insurance should simply not be driving on the public roads,” Reischer said.

Reischer added that jail isn’t overkill for uninsured drivers. People injured in accidents involving uninsured drivers could face significant costs from injuries and vehicle replacement costs.

“The rule of law requires that all automobile drivers must maintain an active insurance policy. This rule is in recognition of the risks and dangers that are inherent to the activity of driving. If everybody drove on the public roads without maintaining their insurance policy, then the bonds of trust that make our society function would break down,” Reischer added.

Here are state car insurance laws pertaining to uninsured motorists penalties and fines:

State Fine Amount Jail Time Registration Suspension License Suspension Confiscate Plates Impound Car Points SR-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 _ _ _ _
  • * Class A infraction that allows fines up to $10,000
  • ** Required to obtain a duplicate license with a notation of “proof of liability insurance”
  • Note: Maximum penalties are current as of January 2014 and based on research and information given by state governments.
  • If your license or registration is suspended, be prepared to pay a reinstatement fee of anywhere from $25 to $250.

How Much Insurance Rates go up After a Violation for Driving Without Insurance?

Once you do finally decide to shop for car insurance, you’ll be considered a high-risk driver. You’ll pay more for coverage. Here’s how much rates rise, on average, after a conviction for driving without insurance. Bear in mind that even though you’ll pay more overall, you can still save money as a high-risk driver by comparing car insurance quotes.

State Rate With Insurance Rate After Driving w/out Insurance Violation $ Increase % Increase
North Carolina$1,170$1,528$35831%
New Hampshire$1,156$1,361$20518%
Rhode Island$2,011$2,331$32016%
South Carolina$1,353$1,496$14411%
South Dakota$1,250$1,342$917%
North Dakota$1,123$1,199$767%
New Mexico$1,498$1,594$976%
West Virginia$1,467$1,555$896%
New Jersey$1,419$1,497$785%
New York$1,214$1,248$343%
National Average__$14210%

Rates are averaged for 10 ZIP codes in each state from up to six major insurers for full coverage with a $500 deductible.

How to find the best auto insurance if you are uninsured?

Driving without auto insurance can be risky. And if you have been driving with no car insurance, you should purchase a policy that will cover your car in case of an accident.

However, some people may not qualify for low rates because they are considered higher risk drivers by insurers due to their lack of coverage up until this point. However, you can get affordable rates if you shop around and compare car insurance quotes.

Another option is to explore regional insurers in your state, they might offer reasonable car insurance rates by states overlooking things you were responsible for in the past.

– Michelle Megna contributed to this story

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Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.