The penalty for driving without insurance in the US varies with each state. However, one of the most common penalties for this offense is having your license suspended. Typically, your license may be suspended for a period of six months to a year. Some states will have suspended for periods longer than that; others will let you off the hook once you provide proof of your insurance.
Insurance laws require that individuals possess the minimum road liability for driving in their respective states. Failure to prove your insurance will subject you to several penalties if you are involved in an accident or pulled over by an officer.
The Big Deal About Driving Without Insurance
Many of you may be wondering why driving without insurance causes so much commotion; being something punishable by the law means there is a reason or many reasons why it is considered illegal.
Firstly, driving without insurance endangers you and other road users. In the case of an accident, the property and lives of the people involved would be negatively affected.
Suppose you cause the accident; it becomes your responsibility to compensate everyone affected by your carelessness. This is a costly endeavor, and except you have a rich old aunt with money to throw away, your finances will suffer.
In the US, the liability for body injuries can be as high as $16,000, while damages in property average around $4000. As we mentioned earlier, these costs fall on you if you are at fault. In addition to this, there is the possibility of lawsuits that could cost up to millions of dollars.
Driving around without insurance isn’t worth the risk with everything you stand to lose, and we strongly advise against it.
What Are The Penalties For Driving Without Insurance?
You are already aware that a penalty for this offense is having your license suspended. However, this isn’t the only punishment. The punishment you get depends on whether you are a first-time offender or defaulting for a second and even a third time.
As you can tell, the more times you default, the more severe your punishment is. The state you are in also influences your punishment.
Common punishments for driving without insurance include:
1. Jail time
2. Court fees
3. License suspension
4. Registration suspension
6. Points on your license
7. Vehicle impoundment
8. Filing an SR-22 form
You may want to know the penalties for driving without a license in each state. This will better inform you of what punishment applies to you when you are caught.
Having An Accident Without Insurance
If you are involved in an accident and authorities discover you are driving without insurance, you could end up suffering more than the person who caused the accident.
Firstly, if you were not the one who caused the accident, your right to claim compensation from the at-fault driver is limited. However, if you are the at-fault driver, you will have to bear the cost of damages out-of-pocket.
There is also the possibility of settling a lawsuit if the other parties involved do not want to settle things amicably.
At-fault drivers need to know that:
1. You cannot purchase insurance to cover up after the accident
2. Failure to cover damages leads to lawsuits
3. Asides from paying court fees and fines, you are also expected to pay a reinstatement fee
4. You fill an SR-22 form if you injure or kill someone
5. Multiple offenses will lead to permanent license suspension
Determining whether you are the at-fault driver isn’t an easy task; your chances of getting out with as little damage as possible are dependent on your insurance policy. Therefore, it is advisable to call your insurance provider and invite them to the accident scene when it happens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Driving Without Insurance Make Me A Criminal?
Unlike other crimes, driving without insurance will not land you in your state’s criminal record. However, you gain points on your license for the offense. Repeatedly defaulting could lead to your license being permanently suspended and your data erased from your state’s database.
Can Undocumented Immigrants Secure Insurance?
Because undocumented immigrants do not have the papers to be present in a state legally, it could be extremely difficult to obtain insurance ad a driver’s license.
However, many states know how severe the consequences of driving without insurance are. Thus they have enacted laws that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain insurance.
States that have enacted this law include:
6. New Jersey
7. New York
8. New Mexico
Undocumented immigrants do not have to be afraid of being deported should they seek insurance.
What if I Borrowed Or Leased The Car?
Suppose you were caught driving around without insurance because they are driving a leased or borrowed car.
Unfortunately, insurance companies hold you (the driver) responsible for breaking minimum liability laws and not the owner. Therefore, they believe it is your responsibility to inquire whether the vehicle’s policy is still valid.
Understand that because you are the one driving the vehicle and the one who caused the accident, it is only fair that you bear the financial responsibilities and not the owner who is unaware of all that is happening.
What Is An SR-22 Form?
An SR-22 form is a certificate or document that proves the driver’s financial responsibility. It is not a type of insurance but a form that proves you meet the minimum liability requirement by your state.
Not everyone needs this form; it is mostly requested for specific driving violations such as driving under the influence and driving insured.
Driving without insurance is a punishable offense, and the consequences attached to it are not worth the risk.
Penalties include paying a heft fine, serving jail time, and having your license suspended.
We would advise you never to take the risk of driving without insurance, even if you do not own the vehicle you are caught driving. The responsibility falls on you and not the owner of the car.
Even if you are an undocumented immigrant, several states have enacted laws that permit you to register for insurance without being deported. Hence, there is no excuse to commit such an offense still.