It doesn’t matter where you live, chances are you’re going to be required to carry some form of auto insurance policy on your vehicle before the DMV will issue you title and tags-and a judge will let you stay out on the highways, of course! Maintaining your auto insurance coverage is a huge part of being a responsible driver. The problem is, people slip.
So what happens if you get busted driving without an auto insurance policy?
Before we get too deep into it, understand that there are a lot of reasons that a driver could let their auto insurance policy lapse. It could be as simple as forgetting the day they’re supposed to renew their policy (and completely ignoring their mail). It could be that they don’t have the money for their premiums-the recession has seen a huge leap in uninsured drivers. It could be that their car has depreciated to the point they don’t feel it’s worth insuring.
Whatever the reason, people who drive without auto insurance aren’t necessarily bad drivers. They are, however, going to pay a heavy price for whatever led them to make that decision in the first place.
There are three consequences that usually go hand in hand with getting busted for driving without an auto insurance policy. As a quick side note, the consequences for driving underinsured are almost as severe as those for driving without insurance. Make sure you check out your state’s minimum auto insurance coverage requirements before signing on the dotted line for your auto insurance policy. The last thing you want to do is make the effort to find a good auto insurance policy only to suffer the same penalties because you were underinsured and your insurance agent didn’t catch it.
When you’re caught driving without auto insurance coverage you can guarantee that you’re going to have to pay a fine. How high that fine happens to be is going to depend on your state, but it’s not going to be pretty. That’s also going to go hand in hand with whatever court costs the judge orders you to pay and, potentially, a civil penalty to get your license back-which we’re going to talk about in a minute.
The judge is well within his (or her) rights to confiscate your license if you’re caught driving without a license, and they will probably do so with very little hesitation. You can lose your license for up to a year after driving without insurance, and the fees to get it back are usually fairly hefty. Depending on your state’s policies you may also find that you have to retake your written test before you can be relicensed, something you probably didn’t enjoy very much the first time around.
And then there’s the up to five years in jail you could be facing. Any way you want to look at it, it’s going to be bad.
The bottom line is that even if you can only afford the minimum level of auto insurance coverage for your state, the consequences of driving without any insurance at all don’t bear thinking about. Your bank account will thank you in the long run.