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Driving Without Valid / Sufficient Insurance

In every state, drivers are required to demonstrate the ability to pay up to a certain amount to cover their liability if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident. These laws are sometimes called "financial responsibility" laws, because while not all states specifically require that drivers carry liability insurance from an insurance company, all states do require some form of proof of financial responsibility.

Despite these laws, one in seven drivers in America (13.8% of all behind the wheel) takes to the road without insurance, the Insurance Research Council reports. The industry group says the rate of uninsured motorists varies widely — from 4% in Massachusetts to 28% in Mississippi.

In states that do not specifically require motor vehicle drivers to show proof of liability insurance in order to comply with "financial responsibility" laws, other acceptable forms of proving responsibility include:

  • Self-insurance certification
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Surety bonds

Laws in most states differentiate between driving a vehicle that is not insured (or without adequate financial responsibility), and driving a vehicle without proof that the vehicle is insured (i.e. when a driver of a properly insured vehicle fails to carry proof of a valid insurance policy).

Across all states and D.C., penalties for a first-time offense for driving without insurance range from the imposition of a $100 fine, to a one-year driver's license suspension.

Penalties for driving without insurance vary from state to state. But these are some of the other most common penalties:

  • Having your driver’s license suspended.
  • Having your vehicle registration suspended.
  • Receiving a traffic ticket for a no insurance violation.
  • Meeting SR-22 requirements. Some states might only impose this if you cause an accident while driving without insurance; others may impose it simply for driving uninsured.
  • Again, your state could have a completely different set of penalties or punishments, so check with your state’s DMV for details and/or these informative articles:

  • Driving Without Insurance: Laws in All 50 States
  • More State-Specific Information on Car Insurance
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