Question: I got pulled over and didn’t have insurance at that time but I had it later the same day. Will the ticket be dropped?

Answer: Although state laws differ, if you were not insured at the time of the ticket, then the citation will stand, even if you got insurance that same day. Insurance can’t be backdated, even by a few hours.

You can expect to face penalties for driving without insurance. If you had an accident, the insurance you bought later in the day would not have covered you. That’s because you were uninsured at the time of the incident. The same goes for when you get a ticket.

If you’re unable to show proof of insurance when pulled over, you may be able to get the ticket for driving without insurance dismissed if, when you go to court, you can show proof that you were insured at the time. While most insurance policies simply list the date they are effective, in this case, the court may ask for proof of the time as well, especially since the effective date is the same day that you got the ticket.

Failure to provide proof that you were insured at the time the ticket was issued will result in penalties that can include fines, jail time and registration and license suspension.

The clerk of the court can tell you if the insurance information you provide must show the time the policy was issued.

Below are a couple of examples of what courts in different states require as proof of insurance to dismiss a ticket.

According to the Plano, Texas Municipal Court, if a driver is issued a citation for failure to maintain financial responsibility and an insurance policy, in fact covered them at the time the citation was issued, the defendant may present proof of financial responsibility to have the citation dismissed. The proof must indicate the following six items:

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the insurer;
  • The insurance policy number;
  • The policy period (the effective and expiration date);
  • The name and address of each insured;
  • The policy limits or a statement that coverage complies with the minimum amounts of liability insurance required; and
  • The make and model of each covered vehicle.

In this example, six requirements must be met. If not, the defendant will have either to obtain a new card from the insurance carrier reflecting the requirements, or obtain a letter from the insurance carrier, on company letterhead, stating each of the requirements that are not indicated on the insurance card.

The Superior Court of California states that Section 16028 of the Vehicle Code requires “every driver and every owner of a motor vehicle” to have proof of financial responsibility at all times. Section 16028 requires that drivers present proof of financial responsibility upon the demand of a peace officer.

A person cited for violation of this section (16028) can have the violation dismissed by either:

  • Personally appearing before the clerk of the court designated on the citation, and:
  • Mailing this proof and the $10 payment to the court

As you can see, courts can and do require that the proof of insurance shows that insurance was in force at the time of the ticket for the charge of driving without insurance to be dismissed. Insurance purchased after the fact will not get the ticket dismissed. For advice on how the courts in your area operate, it’s best to consult with a lawyer.

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Michelle Megna
Contributing Researcher

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. She's a former editorial director. Prior to joining, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News.