Driving without valid insurance can lead to big trouble.

 

 

Throughout most of the United States, driving without insurance is illegal. Drivers can face serious consequences if they are unprotected, which can range from a fine to losing your license or even jail time depending on where you live.

Read on to learn why you should never drive uninsured and penalties in your state, and check out our review of the best car insurance companies in America when you’re searching for your next auto insurance policy. You can start getting free quotes for policies in your area using the tool below.

 

In this article:

Is Driving Without Insurance Illegal?

In most states, driving without insurance is illegal, and drivers will face stiff penalties for doing so. All states except New Hampshire require at least liability auto insurance. New Hampshire does not require insurance as long as you can prove financial responsibility after getting into a crash.

Auto insurance protects drivers if they ever get into an accident. Damages to cars and property, as well as medical bills, can pile up when paying out of pocket. If you’re driving without insurance and you’re at fault in an accident, it can be pretty devastating trying to cover these costs on your own.

What Happens If You’re In An Accident And Don’t Have Insurance?

After an accident, the at-fault driver is responsible for covering the costs of hospital bills, property damage, car repairs for their own and the other drivers’ cars, and other losses. If you’re driving without insurance and get into an accident, you can’t purchase insurance to cover an accident retroactively – it will only cover incidents that occur after your policy begins.

If the other driver does not have uninsured motorist coverage, you must pay for all damage done to your vehicle out of pocket, which can easily amount to thousands of dollars. Other drivers can also sue you for the damage done to their car or injuries they sustain. And, if you seriously injure someone or if someone dies in an accident that you cause, you can face large fines, a requirement for an SR-22, or imprisonment. 

If someone else is at fault and you do not have insurance coverage, there may be limits to how much you can sue the at-fault driver for. In “no pay, no play” states (Arkansas, California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Oregon), uninsured drivers are unable to sue for damages that can’t be quantified with a dollar amount. This includes things like emotional distress and physical pain. They may also have to pay a large deductible for repairs before they can sue you for the costs of property damage.

In a “no-fault” state (Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah), each driver will use his or her own insurance to cover the costs of any losses, no matter who causes the accident. In some states, other drivers may not be able to sue you for medical costs unless injuries are severe.

 


 

Common Questions About Driving Without Insurance

Here are some frequently asked questions about the potential consequences of driving uninsured:

  • What happens if you don’t have insurance and get pulled over? Drivers who get pulled over and cannot provide proof of insurance may face different repercussions depending on the state. You can read about specific penalties later in this article.
  • How much is a ticket for driving without insurance? Tickets can be a few hundred dollars, but fines up to $5,000 can follow a simple traffic ticket in some states.
  • How long can you drive uninsured? You must carry auto insurance at all times in every state except New Hampshire and some parts of Alaska. However, even in those states, it’s beneficial to carry insurance, as it protects you from the high costs of getting into a car accident.
  • Do you need insurance to drive someone else’s car? As long as you have permission to drive another person’s car, you should be covered under the vehicle’s policy. However, if you get into an accident and the policy does not cover the full amount of losses, you may be financially responsible. Non-owner insurance can help if you’re going without a car for a while but may still drive someone else’s car.
  • How does driving without insurance affect your premium? If you’re caught driving without insurance and try to get insured afterward, you’ll likely pay higher rates. Most of the time, insurance providers will charge more for drivers who have had a lapse in coverage than drivers with one accident on their record.

 


 

State Penalties And Fines For Driving Without Insurance

Below is an overview of the consequences you can expect for your first offense of drive without insurance in each state. To see second and third offense penalties and fines, visit the Consumer Federation of America website.

State First
Offense Fine
Additional First Offense Penalties Reinstatement Fee
Alabama $500 Imprisonment for up to 3 months
Registration suspension until you provide proof
of insurance for 1 year
$200
Alaska None At least a 90-day license suspension $100
Arizona At least $500 License and registration suspension for 3 months $10
Arkansas $50 to $250 Registration suspension until you provide proof of insurance
and pay a reinstatement fee
$20
California $100 to $200 Court may impound vehicle
Must also pay penalty assessments
Varies
Colorado At least $500 May be sentenced to complete 40 hours of community service License suspension until you provide
proof of financial responsibility
$95
Connecticut $100 to $1,000 License and registration suspension for 1 month
and until you provide proof of insurance
$75
District of Columbia* $500 License suspension for 30 days $54
Delaware $1,500 to $2,000 License suspension for 6 months
and until you provide proof of insurance
$200
Florida None License and registration suspension until you pay a reinstatement fee and provide proof of insurance $150 to $500
Georgia $200 to $1,000 Imprisonment for up to 12 months
License suspension for 60 days
and until you provide proof of a 6-month minimum policy
$200 to $300
Hawaii $500 May be sentenced to 75 to 100 hours of community service
License suspension for 3 months
or until you provide proof of a 6-month minimum policy
$20
Idaho $75 License suspension until you provide proof
of financial responsibility for 1 year
$285
Illinois $500 to $1,000 License suspension for 3 months $100
Indiana None License suspension for 90 days up to 1 year
Must pay reinstatement fee
and provide proof of financial responsibility for 3 years
$150 to $300
Iowa $250 Community service may take place of a fine
May face a warning, citation, removal of plates
and registration, or vehicle impoundment
Varies
Kansas $300 to 1,000 Imprisonment for up to 6 months
License suspension until you provide proof of insurance
$100 to $300
Kentucky $500 to $1,000 Imprisonment for up to 90 days
Registration suspension for up to 1 year
or until you provide proof of insurance
$40
Louisiana $500 Registration suspension and revocation of plates
until you provide proof of insurance
Vehicle impoundment
$50
Montana $250 to $500 Imprisonment for up to 10 days $100
Maine $100 to $500 License and registration suspension
until you provide proof of insurance
$100
Maryland $150 Registration suspension until you provide proof of insurance After 31 days, fine increases $7 per day up to $2,500 $25
Massachusetts $1,000 Imprisonment for up to 1 year
License and registration suspension for 60 days
Fine is split between municipality and Risk Plan
$50 to $1,200
Michigan $200 to $500 Imprisonment for up to 1 year
License suspension for 30 days
or until you provide proof of insurance
$25
Minnesota $200 to $1,000 Imprisonment for up to 90 days
License and registration suspension up to 12 months
or until you provide proof of insurance
May also face vehicle impoundment and community service
$680 total
Mississippi $500 License suspension for 1 year
or until you provide proof of insurance
Fine reduced to $100 if proof
of insurance is shown by the time of hearing
$25 to $100
Missouri Up to $300 License and registration suspension
until you pay a reinstatement fee and provide proof of insurance
$20
Nebraska None License and registration suspension
until you pay a reinstatement fee
Must provide proof of insurance for 3 years
$100
Nevada $250 to $1,000 Registration suspension until you pay a reinstatement fee
Insurance lapse for more than 90 days requires SR-22 proof
of financial responsibility
$250
New Hampshire None State does not have laws requiring auto insurance Varies
New Jersey $300 to 1,000 License suspension for 1 year
Community service
$100
New Mexico Up to $300 Imprisonment for up to 90 days
Registration suspension until you provide proof of insurance
$25
New York $150 to $1,500 Imprisonment for up to 15 days $750 civil penalty
License and registration suspension equal
to the lapse in coverage
$100
North Carolina $50 Registration suspension for 30 days
Probation up to 45 days
$50
North Dakota $150 to $1,000 License suspension unless you provide proof
of insurance for 3 years
$50
Ohio None License and registration suspension
until you pay a reinstatement fee
$160 to $660 total
Oklahoma Up to $250 Imprisonment for up to 30 days
License suspension until you provide proof of insurance
Vehicle impoundment
$275
Oregon $130 to $1,000 Must provide proof of insurance for 3 years Varies
Pennsylvania $300 License and registration suspension for 3 months
and until reinstatement fee is paid
and proof of financial responsibility is provided
Varies
Rhode Island $100 to $500 License and registration suspension up to 3 months $30 to $50
South Carolina $100 to $200 Imprisonment for 30 days or $5 fine increase per day uninsured
License and registration suspension
until you provide proof of insurance
$200
South Dakota Up to $500 Imprisonment for up to 30 days
License suspension for 30 days to 1 year
License and registration suspension
until you provide proof of insurance
$50
Tennessee Up to $100 License and registration suspension
until you provide proof of insurance,
provide proof of financial responsibility for 3 years,
pay a reinstatement fee, and pass a driver’s license exam
$100
Texas $175 to $350 None $100
Utah At least $400 License and registration suspension
May reapply for registration after maintaining insurance
for three years
$100
Vermont $250 to $500 License suspension until you provide proof
of financial responsibility
Varies
Virginia Up to $500 License and registration suspension
until you pay a fine and provide proof of insurance for 3 years
Varies
Washington Up to $250 Community restitution
Will also need to pay $37 in fees
Varies
West Virginia $200 to $5,000 Imprisonment for 15 days to 1 year
License and registration suspension
until you provide proof of insurance
$200 total
Wisconsin Up to $500 None Varies
Wyoming $250 to $750 Imprisonment for up to 6 months
Must provide proof of financial responsibility for 3 years
Varies
 

*In Washington, DC, there are different violations for owning and registering an uninsured vehicle, as well as operating an uninsured vehicle. These are the penalties for operating an uninsured vehicle.

 


 

Our Recommendations For Cheap Car Insurance

Your specific car insurance rates will depend on many factors, like the state you live in and how long you’ve had a lapse in coverage. To find out how to get cheap auto insurance, you can check out our article on comparing car insurance rates. Or, read on to learn more about our top recommended insurance providers.

Progressive: 4.5 Stars

Progressive Insurance logo

Progressive provides standard liability insurance, as well as coverage like rental car reimbursement and medical payments coverage. You can get coverage immediately, which is helpful if you’ve been without insurance for a period of time. The company also offers many discounts to help drivers save money, like for being a safe driver or bundling multiple policies. Plus, it has the Name Your Price®  tool, which allows you to choose how much you want to pay for your auto insurance policy.

State Farm: 4.5 Stars

State Farm Insurance logo

State Farm has an industry reputation for above-average customer service, including from helpful local agents across the U.S. It offers affordable options for a variety of coverage, including rideshare coverage and roadside assistance plans. State Farm also has a handful of discounts available for things like safe driving and having safety features installed in your car, and it’s one of the best companies to work with if you have teenage drivers.

To start getting free auto insurance quotes from these providers and more, use the tool below.