Driving Without Auto Insurance

Wondering what happens if you are caught driving without insurance? Driving without auto insurance is illegal and carries fines of up to $1,000. What happens when you get pulled over without insurance? In addition to the fines, you could lose your license and registration. Don't try to get away with driving without car insurance; police can tell if you have no car insurance.

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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
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Aug 20, 2021

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What You Should Know

  • Driving without insurance is illegal in most states
  • The best way to drive without insurance is to not draw any attention to your motor vehicle when it’s on the road
  • If you get caught driving without insurance, most states penalize you with a fee, which can range anywhere between $25 and $5,000
  • Repeat offenders risk losing their driver’s license and vehicle registration, or possibly even jail time

An auto insurance policy can be expensive, especially for younger drivers, drivers with poor credit history, or high-risk drivers. This might cause you to wonder, can you get away with driving without coverage.

We don’t blame you for wanting to know how to drive without auto coverage and not get caught. Driving is dangerous, though, so we don’t advise you to go without coverage.

The honest answer is yes, you can certainly get away with it. But there might be major consequences if you’re caught or end up in an accident. And since it’s easy to find auto quotes online, there’s no reason not to get the coverage you need.

While you may not need auto insurance to drive, it’s technically required, so keep reading to learn the pros and cons of driving without coverage.

Even if you think you know how to drive without auto insurance and not get caught, it’s better to be insured, and we can help. Find affordable rates by entering your ZIP code into our free tool.

How do you drive without auto insurance and not get caught?

Do you regularly ask yourself, can I get away with no auto insurance? Maybe you think these policies are a scam, or you hope driving without insurance might be a money-saving opportunity. You’re not alone.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, nearly 13 percent of Americans are driving without insurance every single day.

Rates can be overwhelmingly high for some people. Take a look at the percentage of income auto insurance costs on average in each state in the following table.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates as a Percent of Annual Income by State
StatesAverage Annual Comprehensive Auto Insurance RatesDisposable
Auto Insurance as a Percentage
of Income
North Dakota$768.09$51,311.001.50%
New Hampshire$795.50$48,280.001.65%
South Dakota$744.28$41,825.001.78%
North Carolina$768.28$35,099.002.19%
District of Columbia$1,324.39$59,936.002.21%
New Jersey$1,379.20$49,983.002.76%
New Mexico$920.42$33,358.002.76%
New York$1,327.82$47,446.002.80%
South Carolina$936.69$33,295.002.81%
Rhode Island$1,257.40$42,585.002.95%
West Virginia$1,032.45$32,277.003.20%
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In some states, policies cost almost four percent of your annual income. If you have a rocky driving record or poor credit, that percentage is even higher.

Wondering how to drive while uninsured and not get caught? It isn’t necessarily easy, but it is possible. You can sometimes get away with driving without auto insurance coverage by not drawing a lot of attention to your vehicle when on the road. Keep reading to see what we mean.

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How do you get away with not having auto insurance?

There are some tricks you can follow to help you drive without coverage and not get caught while driving. First, keep up with regular maintenance on your motor vehicle, including all of the lights.

Having a blinker that does not work is one of the most common ways people get pulled over.

Keep your car clean on the inside and outside. If you can’t keep your car clean, it might create the misconception that you cannot afford to pay for your auto insurance policy. If cops suspect you don’t have coverage, they might pull you over.

You can also keep car equipment in your trunk to help you fix potential issues should your vehicle break down. A spare tire, car jack, backup bulbs, and quarts of oil are all useful items to bring with you when commuting. If your car is in tip-top shape, cops will be less likely to pull you over.

If you have a bad alignment, for example, the police officer might pull you over because you are not driving straight and may think you are drunk.

The best advice? Drive responsibly. Being a reckless driver without coverage is the number one way to get pulled over and have your vehicle and driver’s license taken away. If you are going to be driving without a valid insurance, make sure you obey all of the road laws. Come to a full stop at stop signs, and always watch your speed.

How long can you be without coverage?

If you follow the advice above, you can go for a while without coverage, at least until your sticker expires. If a cop pulls you over because they see your sticker has expired, they’ll learn you’re uninsured and you’ll no longer be able to get away with it.

You also want to make sure to renew your license whenever it expires. Police can run your plates and see if you have a suspended license, which will lead to them pulling you over.

Once they pull you over, they will find out that you also do not have coverage. This is a double win for the cop and double loss for you.

Remember, the less attention you draw to yourself, the longer you can last while uninsured.

How do you get caught without coverage?

You can drive uninsured, but be mindful that there are easy ways to get caught. If you get pulled over for any reason, the police officer will find out that you’re uninsured. The first offense in most states is only a small fine of around $100.

You can keep driving in states that do not revoke your license after a first offense, but the consequences get more severe the more times you get caught.

Can police pull you over for no coverage? Technically no, because driving uninsured is considered a secondary offense, which means police will need to pull you over for something else. If they then discover you’re uninsured, you’ll face consequences.

If you’re wondering how to get out of a no-proof-of-insurance ticket, let us stop you there. The only way out of the ticket in most states is by proving you did have an annual or monthly insurance at the time of the traffic violation

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Can police tell if you have coverage by running your plate?

Can police tell if you’re uninsured? Can the law enforcement officer tell if your coverage is expired? With new technology, the unfortunate answer is yes, cops can tell if you do or do not have a policy by running your plates.

In fact, it is one of the most common ways police catch uninsured drivers. And Your plates can even be scanned by cameras on the highways.

In Oklahoma, the program is called the Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion Program. KOCO 5 News covers the story in more detail in the following video.

Whether you’re caught by a highway camera or by an officer running your plates, the charges are hard to dispute and will lead to penalties and other consequences.

Is it illegal to drive without insurance?

Yes, it illegal to drive while uninsured in 49 states and there are penalties for driving without coverage. The exception is auto insurance requirements in New Hampshire, where you can choose to legally opt out.

However, you have to prove financial responsibility in New Hampshire to be able to opt out of purchasing insurance, which means you take on all liability for any damage you might cause while driving.

In other words, you’ll pay entirely out of pocket for your own expenses and the expenses of any other parties involved, if you ever cause an accident.

See what the minimum requirements are in your state in this table. The data comes from the Insurance Information Institute.

State Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
StateMinimum Bodily Injury Liability Limits per IndividualMinimum Bodily Injury Liability Limits per AccidentMinimum Property Damage Lability Limits
District of Columbia$25,000$50,000$10,000
New Hampshire$25,000$50,000$25,000
New Jersey$15,000$30,000$5,000
New Mexico$25,000$50,000$10,000
New York$25,000$50,000$10,000
North Carolina$30,000$30,000$25,000
North Dakota$25,000$50,000$25,000
Rhode Island$25,000$50,000$25,000
South Carolina$25,000$50,000$25,000
South Dakota$25,000$50,000$25,000
West Virginia$25,000$50,000$25,000
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Fortunately, if you get into a car accident while uninsured and are not at fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance will be responsible for the charges. However, it can be hard to prove you’re not at fault if you don’t also have a claims agent working on your side. We’ll discuss this in a little more detail later.

Unfortunately, the price of auto insurance ranges widely from state-to-state and even city-to-city. Over a lifetime, the average American pays around $80,000 on auto insurance. Often, that’s money that many people struggle to afford.

However, you can actually make the claim that uninsured motorists are driving up the cost of car insurance. The NAIC claims that these uninsured motorists cost Americans nearly eleven billion dollars each year.

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Why is it illegal to drive without insurance?

It’s typically illegal to drive without auto insurance because auto insurance provides financial protection for you and anyone else involved in an accident.

Why does this matter? Because the costs that result from an accident can be catastrophic financially. The average cost for an accident that results in vehicle damage and injuries is around $19,000.

While the $80,000 over a lifetime that people can spend on auto insurance may seem extreme, most people don’t have $19,000 laying around to pay for the cost of an accident, so overall, auto insurance may be more affordable.

It’s in your best interest to follow the law and make sure you at least have the minimum coverage required in your state.

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What are possible penalties for driving without proof of insurance?

What happens when you get pulled over without insurance? Laws vary for auto insurance by state, which means the penalties for driving without insurance also change. What are the consequences of driving without insurance?

For first offenses, most states charge you with an uninsured motorist fee, which can cost as little as $100. Other no-insurance tickets might be more expensive, pushing upwards of $400 or $500.

Second and third offenses often lead to higher fines and your license and vehicle registration are revoked. The suspension can last for up to four years. Usually, you must obtain proof of insurance to reinstate your license.

If you commit too many offenses, major commercial auto insurance companies might refuse to insure you, and independent agent rates will be much higher than average.

KZTV Action 10 News covers some of the consequences caused by uninsured drivers in the state of Texas in the video below.

Remember, this is just some of what happens if you get caught without insurance. You may also face jail time, especially if you cause a major collision without insurance and it is not your first offense. As you can see, the consequences of driving without insurance are very real.

Instead of taking the risk of driving without auto insurance, why not secure cheap auto insurance you can trust instead? Start comparison shopping now by entering your ZIP code into our free tool. Keep reading for more on penalties for driving without insurance.

How much is a ticket for driving without insurance?

The ticket for driving without insurance varies by state, and can sometimes vary based on your record (as we noted earlier, if it’s not your first offense, you may find yourself paying more). You can search this table to see what average penalty costs are in your state for driving uninsured.

Cost of a Ticket/Fine for Driving Uninsured
StateTicket Cost/Fine
New Jersey$300-$5,000
New Mexico$300-$1,000
New York$150-$1,500
North Carolina$50-$150
North Dakota$150-$5,000
Rhode Island$100-$1,000
South Carolina$100-$550
South Dakota$100-$500
West Virginia$200-$5,000
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As you can see, depending on where you live, fines for driving without insurance can vary anywhere from $25 to $5,000.

Can your license be suspended for driving without insurance?

License suspension for driving uninsured is a common penalty and it is automatic in 44 states across the country. Only Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Maryland don’t automatically suspend your license if you’re caught driving uninsured.

The only other state that doesn’t suspend driver’s licenses for getting behind the wheel without insurance is Hampshire, and this is likely because it is not illegal to drive uninsured in the state, as long as you are able to prove financial responsibility.

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Can your vehicle be towed or impounded for driving with no insurance?

In short, yes, your vehicle can be towed and impounded if you’re caught driving with no insurance. And if you want to get your vehicle out of impound, you’ll need to purchase insurance. In general, impound lots will not release vehicles without proof of valid insurance. Related: How to get a car out of impound without insurance.

What penalties can you face for getting into an accident while uninsured?

What if you get in an accident while driving uninsured? In the next couple of sections we’ll spend some time discussing what happens when you’re in an accident in which you’re at-fault versus an accident in which you’re not at-fault, both while driving uninsured. Read on.

What happens if you’re in a car accident without insurance as the at-fault driver?

You’ll likely automatically be considered a high-risk driver, if you’re found driving uninsured in an accident when you’re at-fault. Additionally, depending on the severity of the accident, you may be facing severe financial damages, which you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket, since you don’t have the financial protection of auto insurance coverage.

You may also face serious legal penalties if the accident results in injuries, since you were driving uninsured.

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What happens if you’re in a car accident without insurance as the not-at-fault driver?

Where you live has an impact on what happens if you’re in an accident while driving uninsured by you’re not at fault. In some cases, “no pay, no play” laws take effect, meaning that because you’re not insured, you won’t receive any financial compensation (or limited financial compensation) even if you’re not at-fault, because you are uninsured.

In other cases, it’s up to the insurance provider, but if you’re uninsured, you don’t have the representation to help make sure you get fair compensation, so you may not receive what you need to cover the cost of repairs and/or injuries.

How do you find cheap auto insurance?

You know you need auto insurance, which requires you to be prepared to pay for it, and you know it can get expensive. So what are some ways to lower your insurance costs and make sure you’re getting a fair rate?

  • Shop around – don’t buy the first policy you consider. Instead, get quotes from at least three different insurers in your area and compare them to ensure you’re getting a fair price.
  • Ask about discounts – most, if not all, major insurance companies offer a variety of discounts for anything from safety features on your vehicle to being claim-free for three or more years. Speak with an insurance agent to find out which discounts you may qualify for and how much those discounts will affect your rates.
  • Drive safely – this is more of a long-term habit, but the safer you drive, the lower your insurance rates will be.

These are just a few ways you can lower your rates and make sure you’re getting the coverage you need at a fair price.

Do you have more questions?

You are now an expert on how to get away with driving without insurance. You are aware of both the benefits and the consequences.

What are the driving without auto insurance consequences? Getting caught driving without insurance in Tennessee is a different matter than in Ohio. Getting caught driving without insurance in Alabama is a different matter than in Illinois. Get more answers below.

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#1 – What happens if you get pulled over without a license?

In most states, after a first offense, you’ll be ticketed and will be given a chance to prove you simply forgot your license by bringing it to your court date. Repeat offenders risk larger fines and potentially losing their license and driving privileges.

#2 – What happens if you get caught driving without insurance in California?

For your first offense, you will receive a fine for $100-$200. For a second offense, the fine is between $200 and $500.

#3 – What happens if you get caught driving without insurance in Florida?

After your first offense, you must pay a reinstatement fee of $150 and maintain proof of insurance during a registration period. A second offense raises the reinstatement fee to $250.

If you cannot prove you have insurance in time, your license and vehicle registration may be suspended for three years.

#4 – What happens if you get caught driving without insurance in Georgia?

In Georgia, driving without insurance is a misdemeanor and you can pay fine of up to $1,000 and you face potential jail time. Your license and vehicle registration may also be suspended.

#5 – What happens if you get caught driving without insurance in Illinois?

Not only do you face a fine that reaches upwards of $1,000, but you also have to pay a $100 reinstatement fee and submit proof of insurance before you can drive again.

#6 – What happens if you get caught driving without insurance in Texas?

First offenders are cited and fined around $150, but it can be higher. A surcharge of $250 will be added to your annual driver’s license fee for the next three years.

Before you go, take a minute to use your ZIP code and get FREE auto insurance quotes to start comparing rates today, so you don’t find yourself driving uninsured. Which auto insurance company is for you? Find out now.

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