Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Mar 12, 2019

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Car insurance is mandatory by law but having coverage is just not enough – you also need to show proof of insurance when requested by a law enforcement official, the Department of Motor Vehicles or similar vehicle registration/drivers license department in your state.

Driving with no car insurance is against the law and the penalties can be severe depending on your circumstances.

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What the penalties for driving with no proof of insurance?

If you have a car insurance policy in-force and simply do not have proof of insurance with you then the repercussions are fairly minor such as a traffic ticket for not having proof of insurance or a refusal of vehicle registration tags until sufficient proof is provided.

However if you are ticketed for driving with no proof of insurance and fail to mail in or provide the DMV with proof that a policy was in-force at the time of ticketing the penalties can be severe including suspension of your vehicle registration tags and possibly even suspension of your drivers license.

Anytime you are ticketed for driving with no proof of insurance its critical to comply with the law and show the court sufficient proof in a timely fashion.

Failure to do so may result in suspensions as noted above and if you are pulled over while a vehicle or driver’s license is suspended then its a whole other ballgame and you can face very serious penalties.

The fine for driving with no proof of insurance is usually rather minimal but the cost of not complying with the ticket requirements can be exorbitant.

Some states have automated insurance verification systems where law enforcement can look up your vehicle to see if a policy is in-force.

Although you still are required to always carry proof of insurance some law enforcement officials may avoid writing a ticket if the insurance verification system shows there is policy coverage in place and you simply left your car insurance ID card at home.

Driving with no auto insurance coverage in-force however is another story.

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What are the penalties for not having car insurance?

Drivers who fail to obtain an auto insurance policy are essentially operating a vehicle waiting for financial disaster to hit. Although most will recover from the fines set by states the exposure to personal liability in a car accident are greater than you can imagine.

Some lawyers will even see you for you reckless negligence and other punitive measure should you cause damage to another person.

Some of the most common penalties by the DMV and state laws for not having auto insurance include:

  • Heavy Fines – Any driver convicted of driving with no insurance can be subject to heavy fines and in some states these fines increase every day you do not have a policy in-force (such as New York State). Fines can range from under $100 to well over $1,000 in some states
  • Suspended License – Depending on where you live and/or your driving record your drivers license may be automatically suspended if you are caught driving with no insurance and will only be re-instated when you can show proof of insurance. If your drivers license is suspended this will also make it much harder to find affordable car insurance for some time.
  • Refusal of Vehicle Registration Tags – in order register a vehicle you need to show proof of insurance and almost all states require proof of insurance every time you register or renew a vehicle. Without having car insurance your request to register or renewal vehicle tags can be denied.
  • Arrest and/or Criminal Charges – Depending on the circumstances you may very well face felony charges should you cause an accident or injuries driving with no car insurance.

Driving with no car insurance is a big deal and also exposes your personal assets to great personal risk. Granted we understand some driver do not have many assets if you they can’t afford car insurance however this is not always the case.

A lapse in coverage or a simple refusal to insure an older vehicle are reasons why some drivers remain uninsured.

If typical car insurance is too expensive then contact your state as many have low cost auto insurance plans to help low income families obtain car insurance coverage.

Never assume you can’t afford car insurance as there are many different types of policy options available so compare auto insurance companies today and get free quotes online.

Use our FREE quote tool to compare auto insurance rates today!