What Happens If You Don’t Have Insurance?

It depends on what the law dictates. Because driving a car without insurance is against the law, if you’re pulled over without car insurance, you may receive fines, license suspension, have your car impounded, and/or face legal charges. 

Here, we’ve put up important information to help you understand what happens if you don’t have insurance.

What If You Drive Without Car Insurance?

An active insurance coverage is legally required in order to drive your car. Car insurance or proof of insurance also acts as proof of financial responsibility in case of an accident and is mandatory in all 50 states and Washington D.C.

If you’re caught driving without insurance, you could face stiff penalties, including the following:

  • Costly ticket and fees
  • License suspension/revocation
  • License reinstatement fees
  • Financial fines
  • Having your vehicle impounded
  • Legal action by the state
  • SR-22 requirements
  • Lack of financial protection if you’re involved in an accident
  • Possible jail term
  • Denial of coverage if you’re involved in an accident and deemed not-at-fault

Note: These penalties vary by state, who is at fault, and the damage caused in case of an accident. You may receive one of a combination of some penalties depending on your offense and driving record. 

In Arizona, for example, all drivers must have minimum car insurance pursuant to the Financial Responsibility Law. This means if your car is registered in Arizona, it must have at least a minimum car insurance, without which you face possible jail term alongside other penalties. 

Can I Drive My Car Without Insurance?

Yes, you can drive your car without insurance, but it is illegal and not recommended. Property damage, bodily injury costs (such as medical expenses), and legal costs can become unaffordable if you’re held liable without insurance.

An offense for being caught driving without insurance – or proof of financial responsibility – will yield significant fines. However, repeat offenses can dramatically escalate the severity of the penalties. Besides receiving legal penalties, you may be liable to be sued by the other driver for car damage and any medical bills that they incurred from an accident in which you were responsible.

If you want to borrow a friend’s car when you’re uninsured, you could be covered if your friend’s policy has a permissive use clause. Otherwise, you’ll be driving without insurance even if your friend is insured.

If you just bought a new car, the car dealership will require proof of insurance or proof of financial responsibility before you can drive off the lot. 

Car Accident Consequences When Driving Without Insurance

If you’re uninsured or if your insurance has lapsed, being involved in a car accident can be a disastrous situation. This can even be worse if you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage. 

The costs you can expect when you’re involved in an accident without insurance include:

  • Repair and medical expenses: this can cost thousands, even exceeding $1 million if serious injuries are incurred
  • Signifiant legal fines
  • The driver may sue you for car damage and medical bills
  • Higher legal fees
  • SR-22 requirements and prison sentences

In Arizona, the state requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Otherwise, if you get involved in an accident without insurance, the state is at liberty to charge you as follows:

  • Suspend your driving privileges, registration, and license plate for up to a year
  • Charge you a fine of up to $1,000
  • Require you to file an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility

Besides, to reinstate your driving privileges, the state will require you to pay a $35 fee and other accumulated fines ranging from $500–$1,000. The state of Arizona further states that these penalties will increase if you already have previous offenses on your record.

What Are The Consequences Of Filing An Sr-22 Certificate?

We’ve already outlined that if you’re caught driving without insurance, and especially if you’re involved in an accident, your car could be impounded and your registration and license revoked.

But that’s not all.

In most states, including Arizona, you won’t be able to drive the car again until you can submit a valid proof of insurance to your state’s DMV. Usually, this is also proof of financial responsibility, which is typically an SR-22 certificate. 

If the court orders you to have an SR-22 form, it’s a prerequisite to first purchase a car insurance policy. This will allow the insurer to file your SR-22 Certificate with the DMV.

An SR-22 Certificate could mean the following on your driving record: 

  • Classifies you as a high-risk driver: this can significantly increase your policy premiums.
  • You will move with your SR-22 Certificate from state to state: you are obligated to fulfill the SR-22 as required in a different state because you must move with all your driving records.
  • Possible license and registration suspension: if your premium policy has lapsed or is canceled, your insurer is legally obligated to inform the DMV. This can lead to a further suspension of driver’s license and registration plates. 

Can You Reduce Or Eliminate The Penalties If You’re Caught Driving Without Insurance?

If you’ve been convicted of driving your car without insurance, some states may reduce or even waive your penalties. But this depends. 

In Arizona, to reduce or waive your penalties, the state may require you to present the following:

Proof that you haven’t been convicted of this offense (driving without insurance) within the last three years.

Proof of financial responsibility to prove that you’ve purchased at least a six-month car insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum liability requirements.

The court may waive your fine if you can provide these proofs. However, if either your license or registration or both was already suspended, the court will require you to pay their reinstatement fees to get them back. But if the suspension was pending, you may be able to avoid both the fees and the suspension altogether.

Note: If this was your first offense in the last three years, you might plead to reduce or waive the penalties and all the other fines attached to this current offense for driving without insurance. 

How Can I Find The Best Car Insurance?

In the end, the costs and consequences of driving without insurance will be more costly than purchasing state-minimum liability coverage. So, if you’re struggling to find the best insurance for your car, here are some tips:

Know your state’s minimum required insurance: To avoid penalties, you just need to meet your state’s minimum required level of financial responsibility. In most states, if your driving record is clean, you can find basic liability insurance for less than $50 a month.

Look for cheap insurance: You can purchase six-month insurance, which costs an average of $300 and avoid driving without insurance. 

Shop around: You shouldn’t settle the first coverage offer you get. Compare the costs of different policies from different companies before you settle on one. 

Final Thoughts 

Driving without car insurance is a criminal offense, and if you’re caught, you may face penalties and legal charges. You might end up paying more for driving without insurance than purchasing your state’s minimum coverage requirements, including possible suspension of your registration and license.