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 determine what penalties you could face if you get caught driving without 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 your state’s minimum liability insurance requirement 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’re uninsured 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, if you drive uninsured and get in an accident in California, 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 avoid an accident while driving without car insurance, your registration and license will be revoked in many states if you’re cited. You have to pay a fine, and your car may be impounded. Rather than driving without insurance, consider buying your state’s minimum liability car insurance.

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

“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 says.

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 says.

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
Alabama$500 to $1,000 _YesYes  _  _  _ _
Alaska$500 to $1,00090 days to 1 year  _Yes  _  _  _Yes, if in accident
Arizona$500 for first violation  _YesYes  _  _  _ _
Arkansas$50 to $250 for first offense  Up to a year on third offenseYes  _Yes  _  _ _
California$100 to $200   _YesYes  _Yes  _ _
Colorado$500 minimumCommunity Service _Yes _ _Four points _
Connecticut$100 to $1,00090 daysYesYesYesYes _ _
Delaware$1,500 to $3,000  _YesYesYes _ _ _
D.C.Up to $500 fine90 daysYesYesYes _ _ _
Florida$500 reinstatement fees _YesYesYes _ _Yes
Georgia$200 to $1,0001 yearYesYes _ _ _Yes
Hawaii$500Yes (not more than 30 days)YesYes (after multiple offense)YesYes _Yes
Idaho$75 to $1,000Yes (not more than 6 months)YesYes _ _ _Yes
IllinoisMinimum $500 _YesYes _ _Yes
IndianaUp to $1,000 _ _Yes _ _ _Yes
$250 mandatory fine or community service
 _Yes _YesYes _ _
Kansas$300 to $1,0006 monthsYesYes _ _ _ _
Kentucky$500 to $1,00090 daysYesYes _ _ _ _
Louisiana$500 to $1,000YesYes (if you cause an accident)YesYes _ _
Maine$100 to $500 _YesYes _ _ _Yes
Maryland$150 to $2,500Yes _Yes _ _
Massachusetts$5001 yearYesYes _ _ _ 
Michigan$5001 year _Yes _ _ _ _
Minnesota$200 to $1,00090 daysYesYesYes _ _
Mississippi$1,000 _ _Yes _ _ _ _
Missouri$50015 daysYesYes _ _ _
Montana$250 to $50010 days _Yes _ _5 Points _
Nebraska$50 reinstatement feesYesYes _ _
Nevada$250 to $1,000YesYesYesYes _Yes
New HampshireInsurance not normally required _ _ _ _Yes 
New Jersey$300 to $1,000Community Service _Yes _ _ _
New MexicoUp to $300 _Yes _Yes _ _ _
New YorkUp to $1,500 plus a $750 reinstatement feeYesYes YesYes _ _
North Carolina$50 to $150 _YesYesYes _ _
North Dakota$150 minimum _YesYesYes _ _Yes
Ohio$100 to $600 _YesYesYes _ _Yes
OklahomaUp to $25030 days in some casesYesYesYes _ _
Oregon$130 to $1,000 _YesYes _Yes _Yes
Pennsylvania$300 _YesYes _ _ _
Rhode Island$100 to $500 _YesYesYes _
South Carolina$600 uninsured motorist fee _YesYesYes _ _Yes
South Dakota$10030 daysYesYesYes _ _Yes
Tennessee$300 _YesYes _ _ _ _
Texas$260 to $470 _YesYes _ _ _Yes
Utah$400 _YesYes _ _ _ _
VermontUp to $500 _ _Yes _ _Two points _
Virginia$200 _YesYesYes (if you haven’t paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee) _ _Yes (if you haven’t paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee)
Washington$550 _ _Yes _ _ _ _
West Virginia$200  YesYes _ _ _ _
WisconsinUp to $500 _Yes Yes  _ _ _Yes
Wyoming$250 to $750YesYes ___Yes

How much do insurance rates increase after driving without insurance?

Once you 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%
Washington, D.C.$1,887$1,983$965%
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 without 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. 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.