If you’re pulled over by the cops for a traffic violation and fail to provide proof of insurance, you can receive a pricey ticket—especially if it’s not your first offense. The fine for not showing proof of insurance varies state by state and can range anywhere from $35 to $5,000. If you have car insurance but can’t show proof, you may be able to appeal in court to reduce your fine. However, if you’re a repeat offender, in addition to being fined, you can also receive harsh penalties like license suspension, vehicle impoundment, community service, and even arrest. In this article, we discuss the fines and penalties that you can receive in each state. 

The High Expense of Driving Without Car Insurance

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2015, the average percentage of uninsured motorists in the United States was 13%. If you don’t have car insurance, the risk and price of driving is high. Many ticket fines also come with additional fees. In total, you could pay more money in fines for a one-time offense than you would pay for car insurance in an entire year. For instance, you may receive a citation for driving without insurance and have to pay $1,000. However, your state may also suspend your license plates and vehicle registration. In order to reinstate these, you may have to pay additional fees to be able to drive again. In a state like Virgina, where the average annual expense of car insurance is $785.60, it’s cheaper to simply buy car insurance and have proof of it at all times. Additionally, if you get caught driving without insurance, insurance providers may consider you a high-risk driver and increase the cost of your car insurance, making it more difficult for you to find an affordable rate.

The Penalties for the 7 Most Populous State

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There are two common ways that your state can be notified that you don’t have car insurance: law enforcement and internal databases. Each state handles this offense differently, and it’s important to be aware of the penalties that your state implements. Below, you will find information on the fines and penalties that you can receive in the seven states with the highest populations: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. 

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in California?

The average California resident pays $1,962 annually for car insurance. But if you fail to provide proof, your fees could exceed that amount. When you get stopped by the police in California, you must present your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of liability insurance. You can provide this proof by showing your policy or by showing an official state money deposit of the insurance transaction. 

Failure to provide proof of liability to a police officer on your first offense will cost you between $100 and $200. You will also have to pay additional processing fees, which can easily tack on an extra $100. If on your first offense you simply don’t have proof of insurance on hand, you can appeal in court and may be able to eliminate your fee and instead pay an administration fee. On your second offense and beyond, you could receive a citation for up to $500 each time. 

In California, if you are involved in a car accident, you must provide the DMV with proof of liability if the incident caused an injury, death, or damage over $750. In this instance, if you’re unable to provide proof, you will receive a one-year license suspension. On the second offense, the license suspension will increase to four years. 

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Texas?

For Texas drivers, there are three things that you must present if you get pulled over: your driver’s license, your vehicle registration, and your proof of insurance. If you’re a Texas driver, According to the Texas Department of Insurance, in the event of an accident, you must be able to prove that you can pay for the damage you caused. On the first offense of being unable to provide proof of insurance, the driver will receive a citation that includes a fine of $175 to $350. But in addition to this one-time fine, for the following three years, the driver will also be charged $250. This means that you could end up paying $1,100 on your first offense alone. Any subsequent offenses will increase that fine to $350 to $1,000, plus the annual $250 surcharge for the next three years. 

However, the state of Texas offers an “indigency program,” which allows qualified people who cannot afford the annual surcharge to receive a reduced charge. Drivers who qualify for this program will still be required to pay the original ticket. Additionally, if you can’t provide proof of insurance on more than one occasion, you can be subject to penalties like having your license revoked and your vehicle impounded. Having your vehicle impounded will result in extra charges, too.  

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Florida?

If you’re a Florida driver, it’s important that you stay on top of your car insurance policy. By law, if your car insurance policy expires, the insurance provider is required to report it to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you can’t prove that you started a new policy before the old one expired, you could face a three-year license suspension. In addition to having to provide proof of liability when Florida drivers register their vehicles, they must also present proof of financial responsibility to law enforcement in the event of a traffic violation or accident. 

In fact, if you ever cancel your car insurance policy, Florida law requires you to turn your license plates in. At  27%, the state of Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, followed by Mississippi and New Mexico. On your first offense of being unable to provide proof of insurance, you will receive a fee of $150. If you have a repeated offense within three years of your first offense, you will have to pay $250. However, after your second offense, the fee increases to $500. In addition to these fees, you also run the risk of having your license suspended for three years.         

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in New York?

The Insurance Research Council reported that in 2015, only 6% of New York drivers were uninsured, which was the second lowest rate in the United States. Still, the penalties and fees that New Yorkers can receive are some of the harshest in the country. Most states issue smaller fees for first offenses and increase the penalties for each subsequent violation. In New York, uninsured motorists can be ordered to pay anywhere from $150 to $1,500 for every violation. Additionally, drivers with repeated offenses can receive 15 days of jail time and have their driver’s license and registration revoked. 

Similarly to other states, in New York, insurance providers will notify the state if your insurance has lapsed. If your insurance policy expires and you cannot provide proof that you are covered by a new policy, you will have to pay a fee for every day that you were not insured. For instance, if your insurance lapsed for one to 30 days, you will have to pay $8 a day, which is a maximum of $240. If the lapse was longer than 90 days, you will be ordered to pay a fee of $900. Additionally, if you get into an accident and cannot provide insurance information, not only will you have to pay fees up to $1,500, but you will also have to pay a $750 civil penalty fee to retain your driver’s license. 

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Illinois?

In Illinois, all drivers are required to have proof of liability insurance, as well as insurance coverage against uninsured motorists. Drivers must show this proof in the form of an insurance identification card. It’s important to note that in Illinois, driving without insurance is a “petty offense,” which means that you will not go to jail for committing this offense. In Illinois, all drivers must have liability insurance at minimum, and those who get caught driving without this coverage will pay fines. At a minimum of $500, Illinois has one of the highest first-time offense fees. This fine stays the same for second offenses but will increase to $1,000 for third offenses and beyond. 

Another penalty that Illinois drivers risk receiving if they drive without insurance is a three-month license plate suspension. This is the equivalent of having your driving privileges revoked. In fact, in Illinois, if you illegally drive while your license plates are expired, you will receive a fine of at least $1,000. If your license plates are suspended, it will cost you another $100 to reinstate them so that you can legally drive again. Additionally, you must show proof of insurance upon paying this fee. Similarly to other states, drivers who have no prior history of violating this law are able to appeal their citation in court to receive a reduced fee. By presenting your insurance policy information to the court, you may be able to reduce your fine to $100.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania has the ninth lowest percentage of uninsured motorists in the United States, at 7.6%. If stopped by the police, drivers in Pennsylvania must show proof of financial responsibility. On the first offense, you will receive a ticket for $300. In addition to this fine, the state of Pennsylvania will suspend your driver’s license and vehicle registration. During this three-month period, neither you nor anybody else may drive your vehicle. To reinstate your driver’s license and vehicle registration, you will be required to pay two separate fees for each, both of which are approximately $100. 

You may, however, avoid the three-month suspension if you opt to pay the civil penalty fee of $500, in addition to a reinstatement fee of $88. Although your driver’s license will stay suspended, this option allows other people, like family members and friends, to drive your vehicle. It’s important to note that driver’s can only use this option once in a 12-month period. If you get caught twice in one year, you will not have the option to pay the civil penalty fee. In Pennsylvania, if you are aware that your car insurance policy is going to expire, you have the choice of immediately notifying the state government to surrender your vehicle registration. By doing this, you avoid the penalty fees. 

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Ohio?

In Ohio, the fine for driving without car insurance on the first offense is $160. On this first offense, the state will suspend your driver’s license and confiscate your license plates for 30 days. In order to restore your driving privileges, you will have to pay the appropriate fines and show the state your proof of car insurance. If you continue to violate the law, the fines will increase to $360 for the second offense, and $660 for each subsequent violation. 

After the third offense, the penalties and fines will become more severe. At this point, the state can impound and sell your vehicle. In addition to this, you will face a two-year suspension of your driver’s license, and you will not be able to register a vehicle in your name for five years. Getting into an accident without car insurance will also result in significant penalties. If the damage of the accident totals up to at least $400, and you do not have car insurance, your driving privileges may be suspended for two years. 

Citations by State: The Fines and Potential Penalties

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Check the table below to see what the fines are for driving without car insurance in your state—plus other potential penalties that you can receive. 

Citations by State Ticket Cost Additional Fees & Penalties
Alabama First offense: $500

Second offense: $1,000
Class B Misdemeanor, maximum imprisonment of six months, vehicle impoundment
Alaska Each offense: $500 Three-year license suspension
Arizona First offense: $500

Second offense: $750

Subsequent offenses: $1,000
Suspension of driver’s license, license plates, and vehicle registration, as well as reinstatement fees
Arkansas First offense: $50-250

Second offense: $250-$500

Subsequent offenses: $500-$1,000
Removal of license plates, Vehicle impoundment if you get into an accident
California First offense: $100-$200 

Subsequent offenses: $200-$500 
License suspension, vehicle impoundment
Colorado First offense: $500

Second offense: $1,000

Subsequent offenses: $1,000+
Class 1 Misdemeanor, maximum of one year in jail, community service
Connecticut First offense: $35

Subsequent offenses: $50
Class C Misdemeanor, $200 civil penalty
Delaware First offense: $1,500-$2,000

Subsequent offenses: $3,000-$4,000
Uninsured motorist fine, suspension of driver’s license and vehicle registration
Florida First offense: $150

Second offense: $250

Subsequent offenses: $500
License and registration suspension for a maximum of three years
Georgia First offense: $85

Second offense: $85

Subsequent offenses: $185
Misdemeanor, reinstatement fees
Hawaii First offense: $500

Second offense: $1,500-$5,000 
275 hours of community service, 30 days in jail 
Idaho First offense: $75

Subsequent offenses: Up to $1,000
Misdemeanor, up to six months in jail
Illinois First and second offense: $500-$1,000

Subsequent offenses: More than $1,000
$100 license reinstatement fee, suspension of license plates for three months, no jail time
Indiana First offense: $250

Second offense: $500

Subsequent offenses: $1,000
SR-22 certificate for two to five years, reinstatement fees
Iowa Each offense: $250 Maximum 12-month suspension of driving privileges, reinstatement fees, driving and vision exam
Kansas First offense: $300-$1,000

Subsequent offenses: $800-$2,500
Class B Misdemeanor, maximum of two years in prison
Kentucky Each offense: $1,000  Driving exam, 180 days in jail
Louisiana Each offense: $500-$1,000 Storage fees for vehicle impoundment, revocation of claiming losses to your insurance provider in the event of a collision
Maine Each offense: $100-$500 SR-22 maintenance for three years, up to six months in jail
Maryland First offense: $1,000

Subsequent offenses: $2,000 
Administration fees, two years of jail time
Massachusetts First offense: $500-$1,000

Subsequent offenses: $500-$5,000
Up to one year in jail 
Michigan Each offense: $400 each Misdemeanor, up to one year in jail
Minnesota First and second offenses: $200-$1,000

Subsequent offenses: $300-$3,000
Misdemeanor, possibility of doing community service instead of paying the fine
Mississippi Each offense: $500 Misdemeanor, one-year license suspension
Missouri Each offense: $500 Up to 15 days in jail 
Montana First offense: $250

Second offense: $350

Subsequent offenses: $500
Court fees, suspension of driving privileges 
Nebraska Each offense: $50 Maintain SR-22 for three years
Nevada Each offense: $250-$1,000 Misdemeanor
New Hampshire Insurance not required Suspension of license plates, vehicle registration, and driver’s license
New Jersey First offense: $300-$1,000

Subsequent offenses: $500-$5,000
Up to 180 hours of community service
New Mexico Each offense: Up to $300 Up to six months in prison
New York Each offense: $150-$1,500 License revokement, 15 days of jail time, suspension of driving privileges, and vehicle impoundment
North Carolina First offense: $100

Second offense: $150

Subsequent offenses: $200
Probation, maximum of 45 days in jail
North Dakota First offense: $150-$1,000

Subsequent offenses: $300-$5,000
Class B Misdemeanor, driving exam, court fees
Ohio First offense: $160

Second offense: $360

Subsequent offenses: $660
30-day confiscation of vehicle registration and driver’s license, restoration fees
Oklahoma Each offense: $250 Reinstatement fees, confiscation of license plates
Oregon Each offense: $130-$1000 Monthly insurance verification, vehicle impoundment
Pennsylvania Each offense: $300 Vehicle impoundment, suspension of driver’s license and registration for three months
Rhode Island First offense: $150-$500

Second offense: $500

Subsequent offenses: $1,000
SR-22 maintenance for one year, driving privileges suspended
South Carolina Each offense: $100-$550 Up to six months in jail, $5 fee every day that you don’t have insurance 
South Dakota Each offense: $100-500 Class 2 Misdemeanor, SR-22 form for three years
Tennessee Each offense: $25-$300 Restoration fees, driver’s exam
Texas First offense: $175-350

Subsequent offenses: $350-$1,000
License may be revoked, vehicle impoundment
Utah First offense: $400

Second offense: $1,000
Reinstatement and court fees
Vermont Each offense: $0-$500 Suspension of driving privileges until you can provide proof of insurance
Virgina  Each offense: $500 Class 3 Misdemeanor
Washington Each offense: $450-$1,000 Community service
West Virginia Each offense: $200-$5,000 Jail time as an alternative to paying fines
Wisconsin Each offense: $510 Suspension of driver’s license, license plates, and vehicle registration, as well as reinstatement fees
Wyoming First offense: $250-$750

Subsequent offenses: $500-$1,500
Misdemeanor, up to six months of jail time

Sources: Value Penguin, United Auto Insurance

Final Thoughts

Driving without insurance is not worth the risk. Not only will you incur steep fines and penalties if you get pulled over, but the points on your license could cause your insurance cost to go up when you decide to get coverage. Car insurance doesn’t always cost a fortune, you can use insurance price comparison sites to compare prices and get cheaper car insurance, or simply click on the button below to see a list of the most affordable providers in your area.

Sources:

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-auto-insurance