What Are the Penalties of Driving Without Auto Insurance?
Everyone knows that having auto insurance is a good idea because it protects your personal assets in the event of an automobile accident. Cars are expensive and the people inside them are fragile. Since being involved in a collision while traveling at high rates of speed can cause major damage to both vehicles and passengers, with resulting repairs and medical bills that could cost hundred, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases, it’s definitely in your best interest to carry auto insurance of some sort. And considering how many states legally require drivers to have an insurance policy in place when they get behind the wheel of a car, you really shouldn’t go without it. And yet, despite these reason for carrying auto insurance, many drivers elect to hit the road sans coverage. But what are the penalties if you get caught driving without insurance?
Let’s just start by saying that not every state requires drivers to have auto insurance, so if you happen to live in one of these states, there is no penalty for driving without it. Just be aware of the fact that if you plan to travel out of state by car, you may want to obtain some kind of temporary insurance since residing in another state does not relieve you of the burden of coverage in a state that requires it. In addition, if we’re being honest, there is also no penalty if you don’t get caught without insurance. But this is a big if. Any time you are in an accident or even pulled over behind the wheel you may be asked to show proof of insurance. So you’re taking a pretty big gamble by not having it in a state that requires it by law.
Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty. What are you looking at in terms of legal and financial ramifications should you get into an accident without insurance? Even though you won’t face criminal charges or penalties associated with a lack of insurance in states that don’t require it, you will still have to pay out-of-pocket for repairs and medical bills (your own and those of others involved in the accident) if you are deemed to be at fault. So you could consider that a pretty major penalty, financially speaking. And if you’re unable to pay you could be facing jail time. But in states that require insurance you could also face legal penalties.
These could vary by state, but some of the penalties you could be slapped with include fines up to several hundred dollars (perhaps more than you might pay for insurance in a year), loss of your driver’s license and/or vehicle registration and plates for several months up to a couple of years, vehicle impound, and the requirement to purchase a bond for insurance coverage for the next several years (up to five, in some cases) in order to regain driving privileges. And of course, you could be sued by other parties involved in an accident for which you were at fault. Ouch. The long and short of it is that you could be in a lot of trouble, both legally and financially, if you’re caught driving without insurance, or worse, you cause an accident. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a brand new Beamer or you prefer Ford used cars. The damage you cause to yourself and others can come with a major price tag attached, and if you don’t have insurance, the penalties involved could increase that number significantly.