Know about the Penalties when Driving without Car Insurance

Posted on: 15Jan,2016

It goes without saying that the economy in California, like that of the entire US, has been struggling since the economic downturn of 2008-09. Many individuals have felt the burden it has placed on their incomes and are trying to save money everywhere they can. But that isn’t always easy to do in some situations, such as when you need car insurance. As a result, some individuals have opted for minimum liability coverage in order to save money.

California Statutory Minimums

However, some individuals have gone as far as to let their insurance lapse and not renew it when the time comes to do so. In order to meet the California statutory minimums on liability insurance, you need to carry the following amounts of coverage:

• Bodily Injury Liability – $15,000 per accident for the death of or injury to a single individual and $30, 000 per accident for everyone involved in the accident.
• Property Damage Liability – $5,000 for any property damages that result from a single accident

California law does not require that you carry any additional coverage such as Collision, Comprehensive, Medical Payments, and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist. However, most car insurance companies will recommend them so you are fully protected when driving.

Legal Penalties for Driving without Insurance

California has long been recognized as one of the country’s leading states where new civil and criminal penalties are concerned. Ironically, the penalties for uninsured motorists in California are considerably less severe compared to other states. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t be feeling the financial sting that result from the penalties that are involved. Fines will range from $100 to $200 for your first driving without insurance offense and from $200 to $500 if you have a second offense.

There is also a higher risk of your vehicle being towed away and impounded if you are caught driving your vehicle without any insurance coverage. Furthermore, you will not be allowed to get your vehicle out of impound until you have valid insurance coverage and that could result in paying some substantial storage fees if you delay doing so. These are the basic penalties that could result if you are simply caught driving without the minimum liability insurance.

Legal Penalties for being in an Accident when Driving without Insurance

Although, the penalties for failure to show proof of insurance don’t seem that mild, they are when you compare them to the consequences involved should you be driving without car insurance and get into a vehicular accident. No matter how serious an auto accident is and whether or not anyone was seriously injured as a result, this is always traumatic for any of the individuals involved. Whenever you are involved in an accident on California roadways, you should pull over, stop your vehicle, and dial 911 immediately to report it.

When the CHP or police show up, you should show them your driver’s license, your vehicle registration, and your proof of insurance. Herein lays the problem. The penalties for this will be extremely severe. Upon receiving the accident report showing that you are uninsured, the DMV will suspend your driver’s license for a period of up to 4 years, even if you live out-of-state and have a license from that state.

If you obtain valid car insurance, pay any reissuance fees that apply, and can show proof of it, the DMV may reinstate your driver’s license after a year. You may also be required to obtain a Proof of Financial Responsibility certificate (or SR-22) and pay the high costs of an SR-22 insurance policy in addition to your regular insurance policy. Most likely, your vehicle will get towed away from the scene of the accident and be impounded. Once again, you will need to have valid insurance and pay the impound, storage, and towing fees before you can get your vehicle back.

In addition to the above, there could be serious civil penalties as well regarding the actual costs of the accident. You will be responsible for all damages that result and meaning all damages to people and property as well as any medical expenses that result from injuries. If this happens, you will have legal fees to contend with as well.