Can I be arrested for not having car insurance?
It is important to have car insurance for many reasons, not least among them being that most states in the U.S. require it.
If you are ever pulled over and fail to provide “proof of insurance,” you are likely to face serious — and sometimes severe — penalties based on the state in which you live.
Compare car insurance rates right here and make sure you have the coverage you need for the best rate possible.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
|State||First Offense||Second Offense|
|Alabama||Fine: Up to $500; registration suspension with $200 reinstatement fee||Fine: Up to $1,000 and/or six-month license suspension; $400 reinstatement fee with four-month registration suspension|
|Alaska||License suspension for 90 days||License suspension for one year|
|Arizona||Fine: $500 (or more); license/registration/license plate suspension for three months||Fine: $750 (or more within 36 months); license/registration/license plate suspension for six months|
|Arkansas||Fine: $50 to $250; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee; court may order impoundment||Fine: $250 to $500 fine — minimum fine mandatory; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee. Court may order impoundment|
|California||Fine: $100-$200 plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment||Fine: $200-$500 within three years plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment|
|Colorado||Fine: $500 minimum fine; 4 points against your license; license suspension until you can show proof to the DMV that you are insured. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service||$1,000 minimum fine and license suspension for 4 months; 4 points against your license. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service|
|Connecticut||Fine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee||Fine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for six months (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee|
|Delaware||Fine: $1500 minimum fine; license/privilege suspension for six months||Fine: $3000 minimum fine within three years; license/privilege suspension for six months|
|Florida||Suspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatement||Suspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $250 fee for second reinstatement|
|Georgia||Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due||Within a 5 years: Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due|
|Hawaii||Fine: $500 fine or community service granted by judge. Either license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable insurance policy in force for six months||Fine: $1500 minimum fine within five years; either license suspension for one year or a required non-refundable insurance policy in force for six months|
|Idaho||Fine: $75; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.||Fine: $1000 maximum fine within five years and/or no more than six months in jail; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.|
|Illinois||License plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof||License plate suspension for four months; $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof|
|Indiana||License/registration suspension for 90 days to one year||Within three years: license/registration suspension for one year|
|Iowa||Fine: $500 if in accident; Otherwise, fine: $250; community service in lieu of fine. Possible citation/warning if pulled over plus removal of plates and registration possible when pulled over without insurance and reissued upon payment of fine or completed community service, proof of insurance, and $15 fee; possible impoundment when pulled over||N/A|
|Kansas||Fine: $300 to $1000 and/or confinement in jail up to six months; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100||Fine: $800 to $2500 within three years; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $300 if revoked within previous year, otherwise $100|
|Kentucky||Fine: $500 to $1000 fine and/or sentenced up to 90 days in jail; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown||Within five years: 180 days in jail and/or $1000 to $2500; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown|
|Louisiana||Fine: $500 to $1000; If in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 days||N/A|
|Maine||Fine: $100 to $500; suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance||N/A|
|Maryland||Lose license plates and vehicle registration privileges; pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance — $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter; Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle's registration||N/A|
|Massachusetts||Fine: $500 to $5000 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less||Within six years: License/driving privileges suspended for one year|
|Michigan||Fine: $200 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less; license suspension for 30 days or until proof of insurance; $25 service fee to Secretary of State||N/A|
|Minnesota||Fine: $200 to $1000 (or community service) and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days; License and registration revoked for no more than 12 months||N/A|
|Mississippi||Fine: $1000; driving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insurance||N/A|
|Missouri||Four points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement fee||Four points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended for 90 days with $200 reinstatement fee|
|Montana||Fine: $250 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days||Fine: $350 and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days — within 5 years; license and registration revoked until proof of insurance and payment of reinstatement fees within 90 days|
|Nebraska||License and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for each; proof of insurance to remain on file for three years|
|Nevada||Fine: $250 to $1,000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, an SR-22 (proof of financial responsiblity) if lapsed more than 90 days; reinstatement fee: $250||Fine: $500 to $1000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) if lapsed more than 90 days; Reinstatement fee: $500|
|New Hampshire||Not a mandatory insurance state. Proof of insurance may be required as the result of a conviction, crash involvement, or administrative action. If you are required to file proof of insurance and vehicles are registered in your name, you will be required to file an Owner’s SR-22 Certificate of Insurance.||N/A|
|New Jersey||Fine: $300 to $1000; license suspension for one year; pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per year||Fine: up to $5000; two-year license suspension; 14-day, mandatory jail term, and an additional mandatory 30 days of community service|
|New Mexico||Fine: up to $300 and/or imprisoned for 90 days; license suspension||N/A|
|New York||Fine: up to $1500 if involved in accident plus $750 civil penalty; license and registration suspension – revoked for one year; suspension of license if without insurance for 90 days; suspension lasts as long as registration suspension; Suspension of registration: equal to time without insurance or pays $8/day up to thirty days for which financial security was not in effect, $10/day from the thirty-first to the sixtieth day $12/day from the sixtieth to the ninetieth day and proof of security is provided. Or for the same time as the vehicle was operated without insurance.||N/A|
|North Carolina||Fine: $50; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee||Fine: $100 within three years; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee|
|North Dakota||Fine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; Proof of insurance must be provided for one year; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50, and the fee to remove this notation is $50.||Fine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; license plates impounded until proof of insurance (provided for one year) plus $20 reinstatement fee; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50 and the fee to remove this notation is $50.|
|Ohio||License/plates/registration suspension until requirements are met and $100 reinstatement fee is paid; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three to five years; If involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)||License/plates/registration suspension for one year; $300 reinstatement fee; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three or five years; if involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)|
|Oklahoma||Fine: $250; jail time up to 30 days; license suspension with $275 reinstatement fee. Police can seize license plates and assign temporary plates and liability insurance — in effect for 10 days and can also impound the vehicle. The cost of the temporary coverage is added to the administrative fee and any fines paid for plates to be returned. If car impounded, owner must also pay towing and storage fees.||N/A|
|Oregon||Fine: $130-$1000 ($260 is the presumptive fine); If involved in accident — at least a one year license suspension; proof of financial responsibility required for three years||N/A|
|Pennsylvania||Registration suspended for three months (unless lapse was for less than 31 days and vehicle not operated during that time); $88 restoration fee plus proof of insurance required to get it back; $500 civil penalty fee is optional in lieu of registration suspension plus $88 restoration fee — can only use this option once within a 12-month period||N/A|
|Rhode Island||Fine: $100 to $500; license and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50||Fine: $500; license and registration suspension up to six months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50|
|South Carolina||Fine: $100-$200 or 30-day imprisonment; failure to surrender registration and plates when insurance lapses; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee||Fine: $200 and/or 30-day imprisonment — within 10 years; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee|
|South Dakota||Fine: $100 and/or 30 days imprisonment; license suspension for 30 days to one year; filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the state for three years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license.||N/A|
|Tennessee||Pay $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice; if not paid, then an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of registration plus reinstatement fee of no more than $25||N/A|
|Texas||Fine: $175 to $350 fine; plus, pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements)||Fine: $350 to $1000; pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements); suspend the driver's license and vehicle registrations of the person unless the person files and maintains evidence of financial responsibility with the department until the second anniversary of the date of the subsequent conviction; Impoundment: for 180 days and cannot apply for release of car without evidence of financial responsibility and impoundment fee of $15/day.|
|Utah||Fine: $400; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee||Fine: $1000 — with three years; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee|
|Vermont||Fine: up to $500; license suspended until proof of insurance||N/A|
|Virginia||Fine: may pay $500 Uninsured Motorists Vehicle fee to drive without insurance at your own risk. If this fee is not paid in lieu of insurance, all driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended until a $500 statutory fee is paid, proof of insurance is filed for three years, and a reinstatement fee (if applicable) is paid||N/A|
|Washington||Fine: Up to $250 or more||N/A|
|West Virginia||Fine: $200 to $5000; license suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty fee||Fine: $200-$5000 fine and/or 15 days to one year in jail — within five years; license suspended for 90 days and registration revoked until proof of insurance|
|Wisconsin||Fine: up to $500||N/A|
|Wyoming||Fine: up to $750 fine and up to six months in jail||N/A|
View sources for penalties here.
In Arkansas, you can be fined between $50 and $250 for the first offense and have your license or car registration suspended so that you cannot drive your vehicle until you show proof that you have insurance. You could even have your car impounded.
The fine in Hawaii for driving without proof of insurance is a $500 fine or community service that is granted by the judge. You could also have your license suspended for three months.
If the judge chooses to, they could require a nonrefundable car insurance fee and require you to be on the policy for six months before getting your license back.
As you can see, there are very strict fines for failure to produce insurance proof. None of these penalties that we gave as examples involve a jail sentence.
However, there are exceptions. In Wyoming, you may receive a fine of up to $750 and up to six months in jail for failure to produce proof of insurance.
It’s a Class “A” Misdemeanor
We think of the failure to produce adequate documentation of insurance as a minor thing but it is a class “A” misdemeanor depending on the state of jurisdiction.
It is considered a traffic violation and officers have a right to issue you a ticket and demand that you pay fines that are allowed by your state of residence.
On a second offense, you may end up paying much higher penalties and fines.
Paperwork is Important
It’s important to remember also that having your paperwork in your car with you is important. It’s not enough just to tell the officer that you have insurance. In fact, if they wanted to, they could check this with their system that is connected to the internet.
Many states (including Tennessee), now have APR Technology, which allows them to run your plates through an automatic in-car computer system to see if you are covered.
Most police officers at least have access to an inner network that can check quickly and accurately whether your insurance is intact.
Even worse than not having your proof of insurance is trying to convince an officer that a fake or expired insurance card is valid. Courts may see this as a type of insurance fraud in some cases.
Others may view it as an obstruction of justice since you are attempting to thwart the truth to hide the fact that you are without insurance.
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What to Do if You are Pulled Over
If you are pulled over for any reason, and you do not have updated insurance, it is best just to be honest.
You will have to pay a fine if the officer cites you for not having your proof.
The most important thing that you can do to avoid the legal problems and penalties is to keep your car insurance up to date at all times.
We get busy today with jobs and families and other responsibilities. Sometimes it is just an oversight on your part that you forget to pay your insurance bill and your policy gets canceled. Maybe you forgot or changed your bank card and failed to report it to your insurance company.
Allowing your insurance policy to lapse will only lead to the following:
- high penalties
- possible loss of license
- jail time
Courts tend not to view drivers who have no insurance as dangerous offenders, so jail time is rare. When it does happen, it is usually a result of failing to follow up or correct the problem rather than the absence of paperwork for your proof of insurance.
However, you should understand that it is considered a serious thing when it comes to driving offenses, and it can raise your insurance rate substantially, especially if it happens more than once.
Why Insurance Companies Raise Your Rates
There are many different reasons insurance companies may raise your rates. One of them is from letting your insurance lapse because you become a higher level of risk if you allow your insurance policy to run out.
The insurance company prefers that their drivers stay on their policy without gaps so that they are a lower risk to the company.
People who have accidents when they are without insurance cause insurance rates to go up for everyone. If you do let your insurance lapse, you will have to pay for the remainder of the policy premium that you owe in addition to the first month’s premium with your new policy.
Shop and Compare
If you are without insurance and do not want to risk the legal problems associated with failure to show proof of coverage, the best thing you can do is to get coverage as quickly as possible. But you don’t want to make the mistake of just choosing any insurance.
Instead, take the time to shop around and compare different companies and policies until the find the best one for you. Then get a free quote and compare the value of one policy to another and read the fine print. Enter your zip code below to begin!
Once you have an insurance policy in place, it won’t be so terrifying to see those blue lights in your rearview mirror.