Driving without auto insurance is illegal in 48 out of the 50 states. Only residents of New Hampshire and Virginia are not required to carry car insurance. However, while you may drive without insurance in either state, there are still requirements that you must meet.
In New Hampshire, you must pay what is known as a personal responsibility requirement and prove you can pay in case you cause an accident. Most people are not able to pay for an accident they cause out-of-pocket, so most New Hampshire residents have car insurance.
In Virginia, the vehicle owner must pay a fee for being an uninsured motorist. So, in every state, the owner of the vehicle must pay in one form or another.
Since it is illegal not to have car insurance, the penalties for not having at least the state minimum coverage levels, except for New Hampshire and Virginia residents, will vary from state to state depending on the offense. While there is no set average, one aspect that all states that require insurance have is that the lack of proper coverage brings with it steep penalties that may include, but are not limited to the following;
- Suspension of Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, or Both
- Traffic Ticket for No Insurance
- Meet Requirements for SR-22
- Coverage of Large Fines & More
Being caught driving without insurance or the proper coverage brings with it fines in the hundreds of dollars and more. This is because vehicles cannot be operated on public streets by drivers who are not adequately covered, so there are towing fees, paying for insurance, and other costs that can really add up.
The costs will also depend on the circumstances in which the authorities find out that your vehicle has no insurance. For example, if you are pulled over for a speeding ticket or texting while driving, and it is discovered that you have no insurance, the fees may be significantly lower than if you were in an accident. However, you will not be allowed to drive your vehicle until you obtain insurance.
The only exception that may apply to avoiding fees or penalties for not showing proof of your insurance when requested by the authorities is if you are insured, but have no paperwork that is current which demonstrates that you are fully covered. This is common as many people forget to put in the new proof of their insurance policy after purchase.
If you can demonstrate to the court that you were covered, the charges and fees may be dropped for not having proof of insurance in your vehicle. Otherwise, there is no exception for lacking insurance coverage which means that you will face stiff penalties and fees that are best avoided by purchasing insurance beforehand.
To answer the question of is it legal to drive without insurance – unless you live in the states of New Hampshire or Virginia, you will need to have proper insurance coverage for you and your vehicle.