Penalties for Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Insurance

by Julie Davoren
You license may be suspended if you don't insure your car.

All states have laws and regulations regarding the insurance you need if you own a motor vehicle. Insurance protects you against the costs you might incur if your vehicle is involved in an accident. The accident might cause damage to your property or to someone else’s property, or you or other people might be injured in the mishap. Whatever the liability, state laws require you to have the insurance coverage.

You Must Have Liability Insurance

If you drive without liability insurance, your state's motor vehicles authority might suspend your driving privileges and revoke your vehicle registration. How long your license remains suspended and the steps to recover your driving privileges depends on your state. For example, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles might bar you from driving for 90 days. If you repeat this offense within a three-year period, you might lose your driving privileges for a whole year. Conversely, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles might tow your vehicle and you’ll foot the towing and storage fees. They’ll also suspend your license.

You Must Have Proof of Insurance

When you buy liability insurance, your insurance company assigns you an insurance identification card that you can use to register your vehicle. The company also informs the authorities when the validity of your coverage ends, and the card serves as proof of your insurance coverage. The details of your vehicle registration must reconcile with the details on your insurance card. Some states such as Missouri include suspension of your driver’s license as a penalty for failing to show proof of insurance.

You Will Be Ticketed and Fined

If you drive without insurance and a police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation, you might get a ticket because you don’t have insurance and one for the traffic violation for which you were pulled over. If don’t insure your car and it’s involved in an accident, you risk losing your license and the DMV might revoke your vehicle registration, even if you weren’t driving at the time. You also might have to pay fines. For example, if you live in New York, you’ll have to pay fines of up to $1,500 and an additional charge of $750 to get back your license.

To Reinstate Show SR-22

To reinstate your license after a suspension, your state's DMV might require that you obtain a proof of safety responsibility certificate, or SR-22. The certificate proves that you have auto insurance. Each state has its own requirements regarding the time frame for which you must have this certificate. For example, Tennessee set a time frame of three to five years, while Idaho needs you to maintain it for three years. If your SR-22 certificate becomes invalid or you don’t get one, your state’s motor vehicle authority will suspend your license.

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