Can you drive without insurance?

Driving without insurance is illegal in almost every state. If you are pulled over or in an accident, you will face tickets, fines and other penalties. You must have a car insurance policy with specific liability minimums in nearly every state.

One example of an exception is New Hampshire. State law allows you to drive without insurance, however, you are still financially responsible for any damage or injuries you cause. To meet the financial responsibility requirement, most drivers in New Hampshire choose to purchase car insurance.

Driving without insurance can have significant consequences. In Massachusetts, for example, penalties range from fines to jail time.

“It is a civil motor vehicle infraction and can result in a hefty fine, revocation of your license and possible jail time. In addition, the police can impound your vehicle,” says Peter J. Lombardo, owner and president of PJ Lombardo Insurance Agency in Holden, Massachusetts.

See the chart below for a state-by-state guide to the fines and penalties for driving without insurance.

Penalties for driving without insurance

This chart shows info for first-time offenses. Jail time may apply in many states for second or third offenses, but please note that in some states, even a first-time offense may result in jail time.

Many states also impound your vehicle which is an added hassle, both physically and financially.

Some states give you 30 days to produce proof of insurance before these penalties kick in. However, insurance can’t be backdated; you will have to prove that you had insurance at the time of the traffic stop or accident. Buying it afterward won’t get you off the hook.

State $$$ Fines Other Penalties JAIL TIME
Alabama$500License and registration suspension
Alaska$500License suspensionPossible
Arizona$500License and registration suspension
Arkansas$100Registration suspensionPossible
California$100-500License and registration suspension
Colorado$500License suspension
Connecticut$100-1000License and registration suspensionPossible
Delaware$1500License and registration suspension
District of Columbia$500License and registration suspensionPossible
Florida$150License and registration suspension
Georgiaup to $200License and registration suspensionPossible
Hawaii$500License and registration suspensionPossible
Idaho$75License and registration suspensionPossible
Illinois$500License and registration suspension
Indiana$250-500License suspension
Iowa$250Registration suspension
Kansas$300License and registration suspensionPossible
Kentucky$500-1000License and registration suspensionPossible
Louisiana$500-1000License and registration suspension
Maine$100-500License and registration suspension
Maryland$150-1000Registration suspension
Massachusetts$500License and registration suspensionPossible
Michigan$500License suspensionPossible
Minnesota$200License and registration suspensionPossible
Mississippi$1000License suspension
Missouri$20License and registration suspensionPossible
Montana$250-500License suspensionPossible
Nebraska$50License and registration suspension
Nevada$250-1250License and registration suspension
New Hampshire$125License or registration suspension if you don’t prove insurance OR financial responsibility
New Jersey$300-1000License suspension
New Mexico$300Registration suspensionPossible
New Yorkup to $1500License and registration suspensionPossible
North Carolina$50-100License and registration suspension
North Dakota$150-1000License and registration suspensionPossible
Ohio$100 minimumLicense and registration suspension
Oklahoma$250License and registration suspensionPossible
Oregon$265License and registration suspension
Pennsylvania$300License and registration suspension
Rhode Island$100-500License and registration suspension
South Carolina$400License and registration suspension
South Dakota$100-500License and registration suspensionPossible
Tennessee$25License and registration suspension
Texas$350None for a first offense
Utah$400License and registration suspension
Vermontup to $500License suspension
Virginia$500License or registration suspension if you don’t prove insurance OR
financial responsibility
Washington$550License suspension
West Virginia$200-500License and registration suspensionPossible
Wisconsin$500License and registration suspension
Wyomingup to $750License and registration suspensionPossible

*Penalty details obtained from individual state government websites, current as of April 2023

What if you're in an accident and you don't have insurance?

If you’re driving without insurance and you get into a car accident, there are serious consequences. The tickets and fines can range from hundreds to even thousands of dollars, and some states impose a jail sentence. Loss of your license and ability to register your car and get affordable insurance in the future are also on the line.

“If you’re in an accident and your insurance has lapsed, the insurance company has the right to deny the claim and you will be forced to pay both bodily injury and property damages out of pocket,” Lombardo says. 

That means if the damage to another person is $10,000, $20,000, or even $100,000, you are responsible for paying it. If you don’t have the cash, your assets are next on the list to be seized to pay the debt. This is true in any state. Your car, house – anything you own – is on the line to pay your debt.

You will likely have to retain legal services if you owe large amounts of money that you can’t pay. 

What if you don’t have insurance but the other driver is at fault?

You can still put in a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance even though you are uninsured. You will still have to pay your own fines and penalties for being uninsured. In some states, you may not be able to recoup the total amount of damages owed to you, but you are still entitled to a claim. Always stay at the scene and fill out all necessary paperwork.

Does being caught driving uninsured cause your rates to go up?

If you’re caught driving without insurance, you may face higher rates because you are now considered a risky driver.

“In addition to the surcharge you will likely receive, most companies also ask if your current or prior insurance has lapsed. If it has lapsed, it will be both more expensive and more difficult to find insurance companies willing to insure you,” Lombardo says. The same is true if you never had insurance in the first place.

The more times you are caught, the worse things get. In addition to higher insurance rates, tickets, fines and penalties get harsher. 

The fine in Massachusetts for a second offense is pretty steep. 

“A second offense can result in a maximum fine as high as $5,000, in addition to possible loss of license, possible jail time,” Lombardo says.

Many states will require you to file an SR-22 if you have been caught once without insurance. This form proves that you now meet the state’s financial responsibility requirements.

Remember, having a vehicle registered in your name means you must carry insurance for that vehicle. If you don’t have your own car, you can look into non-owner car insurance. This will cover a certain amount of liability if you get into an accident in someone else’s vehicle. It doesn’t cover damage to the vehicle, it covers injury to another person or damage to their property. It might be a good idea if you borrow someone else’s car or rent cars frequently.

You may think skipping car insurance is a good way to keep your monthly costs down, especially if money is tight. It’s a huge risk to take and almost always backfires; you will end up paying out of pocket for damages and fines.

Auto insurance FAQs

Is driving without insurance a crime?

In most states driving without insurance is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by fines, loss of license and in some cases, jail time.

Do you get points on your license for driving without insurance?

Yes, you can get points on your license for many minor and major traffic violations in many states, and driving without insurance is one of them.

Can your license be suspended for driving without insurance?

Yes, your license and car registration can be suspended in many states for driving without insurance, in addition to fees and surcharges that must be paid to get them back.