Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • There are various penalties for driving without insurance based on where you live
  • It is possible for your car to be impounded if you do not have auto insurance
  • Know the laws and make sure your insurance is current to avoid legal and financial disasters

Everyone knows that having car insurance is important. It protects you from legal liability, including both civil and criminal actions that could be taken against you if you do not have auto insurance.

Some laws are in place in every state regarding car insurance, whether insurance is required in those states or not.

For example, even New Hampshire and Virginia, which do not require that you carry car insurance, require some proof that you can pay for any damages if you have an accident.

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Insurance is the Law

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Outside of New Hampshire and Virginia, every other state in the U.S. makes it a state law to carry auto insurance at all times. Not only must you have insurance, you must also show proof of insurance if you are ever pulled over for any reason.

Some states are more strict than others regarding the penalties for failure to produce proof of insurance.

Make sure you understand what each state requires for car insurance coverage. 

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State Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

To answer the question of whether a car may be impounded for having no insurance, we can look at some examples of the types of penalties that are imposed on drivers for failure to prove coverage for their insurance.

Some states are more strict than others but all impose a fine for driving without insurance. Some even impose jail terms.

The state of Colorado has a minimum fine of $500 for the first offense. They also impose four points against your driver’s license, which can increase your premiums.

Additionally, they will usually suspend your license until you can provide proof that you have reinstated your insurance. The courts may add an optional 40 hours of community service. The second offense is a $1,000 fine.

The state of Texas takes the proof of insurance very seriously. On the first offense, you can be fined up to $350. They add another $250 per year for up to three years after this to keep from losing your driving privileges.

On a second offense in the state of Texas, they will impound your vehicle for up to 180 days. So, if you are driving in Texas, you will want to make sure that you have your insurance up to date and that you are carrying your proof of insurance documents in your car at all times.

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License Revokement

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In addition to the expensive fines and possible impoundment or jail time that you could receive if you are caught driving without insurance, you could also have your driver’s license revoked.

Eighteen states have license suspension as an option if you drive without insurance.

As you can see, most states take driving without insurance very seriously. They impose minimum fines in many cases in addition to temporary license suspension.

The license suspension can exceed several months, not just for a few days while you show your reinstated insurance documentation.

Remember that whether you get your license revoked or suspended in these situations depends on the court when you appear to pay your fine or to defend your driving privileges. The situation that gets you into this predicament is a failure to provide proof of insurance.

To avoid these legal problems and the risk of losing your registration or license, make sure your car insurance is current and that you have proper documentation of this.

Keep your proof of insurance in your auto at all times so that you will have proof if you are stopped by an officer.

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What if I am not insured?

If you are not insured, or you have let your insurance lapse, you are in great legal jeopardy when driving your car. If you are stopped for any reason, any or all of these stiff penalties could be imposed on you, depending upon the regulations in that state that you are driving in.

  • Loss of registration – One of the penalties that many states impose is the loss of your car registration.
  • Suspension of license – You should understand that the suspension of your driver’s license is often imposed as a standard penalty when you cannot provide proof of insurance. The suspension can range from a few days to six months or more.
  • Stiff fines and court costs – The minimum fine in most states is around $350-$500. This is just an average. Many states impose $750-$1000 fines on the first offense.
  • Points on your driving record – In addition to the high costs of driving without insurance, you may get points added to your driving record. Insurance companies keep up with the number of points that you have, and you could end up paying much more in your insurance premiums for having points added.
  • Increase in premiums – The natural result of these events is that your insurance premiums will naturally increase due to the penalties of driving without insurance.

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Insurance is not a Minor Thing

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The mistake that many people make is that driving without insurance is a minor oversight. It may be an oversight, but it is also a crime. It is considered a misdemeanor that is punishable by law.

There are some different reasons as to why states tend to think of this as a major problem. One is that driving without insurance opens up the possibility of increased lawsuits due to tort and civil lawsuits.

Insurance is there to pay the expenses of damages and injuries sustained in an accident. If this protection is not there, individuals may sue the offending parties for the damages.

Another reason for the attention to having active insurance is that it causes premiums to rise for everyone else.

When fewer people have insurance coverage, the ones on the insurance plans are the ones who end up footing the bill for the accidents caused by others. So penalties for not having insurance are imposed to discourage going without coverage.

Car insurance is also a way to keep people accountable and to contribute to the insurance system so that insurance companies will have the reserve needed to pay for accident claims when they occur.

What to Do if You are Not Covered

If you do not have car insurance, now is the time to start searching for a vehicle insurance policy. Your transportation is part of your freedom that you enjoy. While it is not a right, it is a privilege, and it can be revoked for not keeping your insurance up-to-date.

To find the best insurance plan, shop and compare at least three or four companies and then get a free quote online. Remember that insurance not only protects others-it protects you. Enter your zip code below to compare quotes today.