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Suspended licenseYou'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%, rate data show.

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.

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 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 duplicate license with notation of  "proof of liability insurance" 
  • Note: Maximum penalties 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.