In most states, it's illegal to drive without the required minimum liability insurance. If you're caught driving without proof of auto insurance, you face serious penalties, and in some cases, you face up to 6 months of jail time.
Is it legal to drive without insurance?
Your state requires you to have the minimum liability coverage by law, except for New Hampshire and parts of Alaska. In Virginia, driving without insurance is legal, but you pay a fine of $500 for the privilege.
Why is it illegal to drive without insurance?
If you're in a situation where you've caused significant damage to another person's vehicle and caused extensive injuries, it may financially ruin you to pay for it out-of-pocket. It also leaves the person you've hurt in financial turmoil if they then have to pay for these expenses themselves.
It's because of this that the state's minimum liability coverage is typically a legal requirement for those who own and drive a vehicle.
What happens if I am caught driving without insurance?
The best-case scenario if you're caught without this coverage? You pay a hefty fine.
Depending on what state you are in, you face different penalties, including:
- A fine: The amount of this fine is between $500-$2000 for first-time offenders. Certain states require you to pay an extra surcharge of $250 to the DMV and rule that you serve at least $1000 worth of community service.
- License and registration suspension: Some states strip you of your license and registration. The duration of this suspension is anywhere between 3-6 months, depending on your state's laws. You're not allowed to buy, drive, or own another vehicle for this period of time. You pay an additional fee to reinstate your license and registration when the suspension is lifted.
- Impoundment: There are states, such as Louisiana, that take the offense so seriously that your car's impounded on a first offense. The duration of this impoundment depends on your state's laws and restrictions.
- Imprisonment: Whether it's your first or second offense, some states imprison you if you're found without proof of insurance. The length of your jail time depends on your state, but on average you spend between 10 days to 6 months in jail.
You don't have to be driving to face penalties for lapses in your auto insurance
There are over 22 states that electronically check your auto insurance payments with a computer system. If you're experiencing a lapse in your insurance, the system picks it up and sends an alert to officials that you don't have auto insurance.
You're therefore liable for a fine even if you're not caught driving your vehicle by an officer, including possible vehicle impoundment until you reinstate your auto insurance.
Second-time caught driving without insurance
If you've already been caught driving without insurance before, your punishment the second time around is much harsher. It includes the following:
- The fine amount is doubled
- License and registration are stripped
- Jail time is mandatory
3 things to consider about driving without insurance
- Your rates vary depending on your car model, location, safety features, and more. Cut costs on your premiums by applying for discounts. Progressive provides many student discounts that save you up to 25% on your auto insurance premiums. Contact Progressive to get your quote, today!
- Under no circumstance should you drive without insurance. Not only do you face harsh penalties and fees, but your driving record maintains a large blemish that leads to skyrocketing premiums.
- If you get into an accident without insurance, your state's punishment is even harder. You're charged for your offense of driving without insurance and you face penalties for the accidents, too. Your license is taken away, and you face jail time.
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