What happens if you get pulled over without proof of insurance for your car?
Having active car insurance is both a requirement of the law – in most states – and a proof of protection in the event of an accident.
Like most other U.S. states, Arizona requires all drivers to have minimum car insurance according to the Financial Responsibility Law. This means if you have a car registered in Arizona, it must have at least a minimum car insurance.
What Happens If You Get Pulled Over Without Car Insurance?
Since car insurance is a legal requirement for you to drive your car, a lack of it when driving can lead to potential consequences. These may include:
- License suspension/revocation.
- A costly ticket or fine.
- Lack of financial protection in the event of an accident.
- Denial of insurance coverage if you’re involved in a wreck and deemed not-at-fault.
- Jail term.
Furthermore, the consequences of driving without insurance depend on three factors:
- Where you live – your state.
- Who was at fault – in case of an accident.
- The Damage caused – also in case of an accident.
Where You Live
Excluding Virginia and New Hampshire, all other states in the U.S. require you to have car insurance.
Who Is At Fault
If you are involved in an accident, and you’re the at-fault driver, you’ll face penalties for driving uninsured.
The Damage Caused
If you were the at-fault driver in the accident and you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for any damage or injuries you caused — including legal fees if the other driver sues you.
Driving Without Car Insurance In Arizona
If you get pulled over without proof of car insurance or self-insurance in Arizona, you risk facing a traffic citation and additional penalties.
In Arizona, drivers are required to have liability car insurance. The insurance must meet the state’s minimum car insurance requirements for both property damage and bodily injury coverage.
As a result, if you register and drive a car in Arizona, you must at least have minimum insurance coverage such as:
- Bodily injury liability coverage of $25,000 for every person (driver).
- Car accident coverage of $50,000 for every car accident when the involved accident causes injuries to more than one person.
- Property damage liability coverage of $15,000.
You cannot legally drive your car with registration and without the prescribed minimum car insurance coverage.
But, there is an alternative if you do not want to obtain car insurance.
In Arizona, you are given the option of self-insurance by purchasing a bond with a minimum amount of $40,000 in coverage.
When you register a car in Arizona, you must provide proof of insurance coverage at the (Department of Motor Vehicles) DMV of either your:
- Car insurance; or
- Self-insured bond.
Penalties For Driving Without Insurance in Arizona
Upon request by law, for instance, a law enforcement officer, you are required to provide proof of car insurance or financial responsibility. Otherwise, there are consequences.
Arizona is known to have the strictest penalties for driving without insurance. The penalties vary according to the circumstances.
Driving without the minimum car insurance in Arizona is a civil traffic violation whose penalties can include:
- Traffic citation.
- Traffic ticket.
- Possible suspension of license.
- Possible jail terms.
For all traffic citations, you can anticipate three specific penalties:
- A fine of at least $500.
- Suspension of driving privileges.
- An SR-22 requirement for two years. This certificate informs insurance agencies and companies that you are a high-risk driver, which may increase premiums.
The offense penalties are categorized into classes with different fines, the effect of driving privileges, and other requirements.
First offense penalties include:
- At-least a $500 fine.
- 3-month Arizona license suspension – both driver’s license and plates.
- 2-year SR-22 certificate.
Second offense penalties include:
- At-least a $750 fine.
- 6-month Arizona license suspension – both driver’s license and plates.
- 2-year SR-22 certificate.
Third and subsequent offenses penalties include:
- At-least a $1,000 fine.
- 1-year Arizona license suspension – both driver’s license and plates.
- 2-Year SR-22 certificate.
However, depending on the situation, the court may attach additional penalties and fees regardless of whether it was your first or fifth traffic offense.
What About Having an SR-22 Insurance
In car-insurance, SR-22 insurance is another name for a Certificate of Financial Responsibility.
It is not actual car insurance but proof that the driver has and maintains the state minimum required amount of car insurance.
The state of Arizona mandates the SR-22 form.
If the court requires you to have an SR-22 form, it is a prerequisite first to purchase a car insurance policy. After this, the insurer will file your SR-22 certificate with the DMV.
Here are essential points to consider as far as SR-22 certificate is concerned:
SR-22 Classifies You As High Risk
Insurers will deem you high risk because you are required to obtain an SR-22 certificate, which will significantly increase your policy premiums.
You Will Move With the SR-22 Certificate From State to State
If you obtain an SR-22 certificate in a different state, say in Arizona and moved to another state, you are still obligated to fulfill the SR-22 as required.
SR-22 Can Lead to License Suspension
If your premium policy is canceled or lapses, your insurer is legally obligated to inform the DMV, which could lead your driver’s license, registration, and license plate to be suspended again.
Can You Reduce Or Eliminate The Fine?
Often, most people who drive without car insurance do not want to pay the premiums.
In Arizona, the case is the same.
If you are caught driving without car insurance and convicted for it, the penalty (often fine) can be more costly than the price of a car insurance policy, particularly in Arizona.
However, there may be ways, though limited, to eliminate or reduce the fine.
If the current offense is your first offense in the last three years, it is possible to plead to waive or reduce the fine, and if possible, all the other penalties attached to the offense for driving without insurance.
However, you should demonstrate the following:
- No previous traffic convictions for driving without insurance.
- No more than one violation on your driving record.
- As goodwill, purchase at least a six-month car insurance policy required in the Arizona minimum liability requirements.
It is possible that if the court waives the fine, it can also waive the other remaining penalties.
However, if there has already been an effect on your driving privileges (registration, driver’s license, and license plate), for instance, a suspension, then it will cost you to have them reinstated.
It is an offense to drive without car insurance.
In Arizona, State Statutes make it mandatory for every car operator to have car insurance or proof of financial responsibility, lack of which attracts severe penalties.
Having car insurance is both a proof of law-abiding and proof of protection in the event of a mishap. It is only important that you have it and protect your car and yourself.
It is important to contact your insurance provider to seek a more legal and insurance perspective of driving without insurance, and consequences or penalties that accompany it.