Is not having auto insurance a criminal offense?

Did you know driving without auto insurance is illegal in 49 out of 50 states? You could face fines upward of $1,000 and license suspensions depending on where you live.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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 (BBB A+). 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 and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Mar 22, 2022

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Things to Remember...

  • Driving without auto insurance is against the law in 49 of the 50 states
  • Not having auto insurance is a civil offense, not a criminal offense
  • Driving without insurance can result in criminal charges depending on the circumstances

Driving without insurance is a civil offense depending on what happens during the course of your driving.

Some circumstances, however, can change the offense from civil to criminal.

The consequences of driving without auto insurance vary according to state auto insurance laws.

Punishment can be as minor as receiving a ticket or as serious as having your car impounded and your license suspended.

The consequence usually correlates to the frequency of the offense. The more offenses you have, the greater the consequence will be.

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Is there a cost if I am caught driving without insurance?

If you receive a ticket, you will have to pay the fine. Most states charge anywhere from $100 to $250 for driving without auto insurance.

If your license is suspended, you will have to wait a designated period of time, pay a fine, and in some cases go before a judge in order to get your license back.

Think about how this will impact your daily life.

If you are caught driving with a suspended license, in most states you will be arrested. After an arrest, the length of time you have to wait to get your license back increases as does the fine.

In some states, it can lead to having your licensed revoked for a year or more.

Beyond the legal ramifications, there are also civil ramifications. If you are in a car accident or hurt someone while driving without auto insurance, you will not have insurance money to pay for damages or medical costs.

The other person involved can choose to sue you for damages. If they win the lawsuit, you can lose everything you have.


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What can make the charges change from civil charges to criminal charges?

For a charge to change from civil to criminal it has to involve a crime against another person or to have endangered someone else.

Basically, driving without an auto insurance policy is a civil charge because it does not involve a crime against another person it is a crime that is solely against the state or county law.

When driving without auto insurance, if you are involved in an incident that involves or hurts someone else, the charges will change.

For example, if you are in an accident or drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you have hurt or endangered someone else. The charges would change from civil to criminal.

When you look at the potential legal, civil, and criminal ramifications for getting caught driving without auto insurance, it just doesn’t make sense to go without auto insurance.

Some people think that they cannot afford insurance, but the truth is, you can’t afford to be without it.

How can I find an affordable auto insurance policy?

Finding affordable auto insurance begins with you. If you keep a clean driving record, you will automatically receive lower auto insurance rates than someone who has a negative driving record.

Each at-fault accident and moving violation add to the cost of your insurance.

You can also make smart choices that can lower your monthly premium rate.

  • You can take a defensive driving course or if you are a student, you can take a driver’s education course
  • If you don’t already have an alarm or anti-theft device on your vehicle you can add one
  • Combining your auto, homeowners, boat, life, or any other insurance policies with one company will decrease your rates
  • Multiple auto discounts and good grade discounts for students will add additional reductions to your insurance rates

Comparing auto insurance rates is still one of the best ways to make sure you are receiving the lowest rate possible on your auto insurance policy.

Whatever you do, don’t go without auto insurance. It’s not worth it.

Compare auto insurance rates right now by entering your zip code into the free box!



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