State laws differ however yes, in most states if you have been cited for driving without insurance it does matter if you obtain insurance after the time of the ticket. Some states may allow you to dismiss the charge if you obtain and maintain auto insurance after the time and date of the ticket while in many others must have actually been insured at the time that the ticket was written in order for the offense to be dismissed.

If you did not get insurance on your car until hours after you were cited by law enforcement for this violation of the law, then in fact you are guilty because at the time of the citation you were uninsured and will likely suffer the usual penalties for driving without insurance. If had been in an accident the insurance you bought later in the day would not have covered that previous incident.

Normally when a court requests your auto insurance information in order to dismiss your charge of driving without insurance they will want documents from your insurer showing that you were insured at the time of the ticket and that you had not had a lapse in insurance. If you were driving without insurance and purchased your policy later in the day there was obviously a lapse and thus you broke the law.

So state laws differ as do what certain court jurisdictions requirements on what you can bring to court to show proof of insurance if you were cited for driving without insurance but had a policy in effect at the time.

Since you were stopped and did not have auto insurance at that time it would appear that the proof of insurance you sent into the court was not accepted and you will have to appear in court. You will need to contact the court to see what your penalties may be for this offense. The penalties differ by state but can include fines, jail time, registration and license suspension.

The clerk of the court should be able to tell you if your current car insurance information will help you at all in court or not. This officer of the court can tell you whether the insurance information must state that you had insurance on that day and give the specific time that the policy started.

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

According to the Plano, Texas Municipal Court if a driver is issued a citation for failure to maintain financial responsibility (Insurance) and he or she was in fact covered by an insurance policy at the time the citation was issued, the driver (defendant in court) 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 the Plano court if the proof does not reflect all six (6) requirements, the proof will not be accepted by the Court. The defendant will have to either obtain a new card from the insurance carrier reflecting the necessary 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 be in possession of 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:
    • presenting proof of financial responsibility showing that the driver was in compliance with this law at the time ticket was issued
    • paying a $10 processing fee
  • Mailing this proof and the $10 payment (payable to Kern County Superior Court) to the court

As you can see courts can 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. So if this is what your court requires then likely you will be found guilty since you did not get insurance until 2 hours after your citation. You may want to seek legal counsel to see if a lawyer could help you when you go to your court date.

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Michelle Megna
Editorial Director

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. 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.