In every state, drivers must prove they can pay for the costs of a motor vehicle accident. These laws are sometimes called financial responsibility laws. While not all states specifically require drivers to carry liability coverage from an insurance company, they all require some form of proof of financial responsibility.
If you're pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation, not having adequate insurance can make an already unpleasant situation even worse. Driving uninsured adds another layer of repercussions on top of why the officer stopped you in the first place.
Some states do not specifically require motor vehicle drivers to show proof of liability insurance to comply with financial responsibility laws. In these states, other acceptable forms of proving responsibility include:
Do All States Require Auto Insurance?
Laws in most states differentiate between driving a vehicle that is not insured or without adequate financial responsibility, and driving a vehicle without proof of insurance or driving with expired insurance.
Tickets for expired insurance: Lapsed policies can result in a ticket and a fine. If you missed a payment or forgot to renew your policy, you may be saved by a grace period. This varies by state but is typically between 10-20 days. Most state laws require auto insurance companies to give notice before canceling your policy. Avoid this type of citation by ensuring your insurance is up to date.
Tickets for no proof of insurance: Police can cite you if you don't have proof of your policy on hand, even if it's active and in good standing. Change out your insurance cards regularly and keep a digital copy if possible. Most states allow electronic proof of insurance, so you don't need to have the paper copy on you if the digital version is readily available on your phone.
Each state has its own rules and penalties for uninsured drivers. Check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or use the table at the end of this article for details.
Penalties for Driving Uninsured
Across all states and D.C., penalties for a first offense of driving without insurance range from a $100 fine to a one-year driver's license suspension. While penalties for driving without insurance vary by state, there are some common consequences:
An SR-22 form is an official document confirming you have at least the minimum insurance coverage required by your state. They are typically required for high-risk drivers who have committed certain traffic violations. Some states require SR-22 only if you cause an accident while driving without insurance. Others impose it simply for driving uninsured.
Other violations necessitate an SR-22, including driving under the influence (DUI) and accumulating too many driver's license points. Filing an SR-22 form can be costly and typically involves a filing fee. Since it signifies a higher level of risk, you can also expect your insurance premiums to increase.
If you need SR-22, contact your insurance company for assistance.
Subsequent offenses incur higher fines and further restriction of your driving privileges, like a longer license suspension period of time, or even revocation or cancellation. Repeat offenders can face jail time.
What if I'm in an Accident?
The consequences of driving without valid insurance are even more severe if you cause a car accident. If you are at fault for the collision, you are responsible for any injuries and property damage resulting from the accident. You will have to pay for these costs out-of-pocket without an adequate insurance policy to cover them.
Without insurance to cover accident losses, the injured party may take legal action to recover damages. This is usually in the form of a lawsuit against the uninsured motorist.
If you are in an accident while driving uninsured but not at fault, you may not be able to collect losses for any vehicle damage or other losses. Some states have “No Pay, No Play" laws that limit the compensation uninsured drivers can get from an at-fault driver. States that use these laws are:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
Confused by Financial Responsibility Laws? Get Legal Help
The penalties for driving without enough car insurance can be steep. You can face a hefty fine, and even lose your driver's license. If you've been cited for violating a financial responsibility law, you have options.
You can speak with a local traffic ticket lawyer to learn more about the best next step for your circumstances. An experienced lawyer can review the details of your ticket and your state's financial responsibility law to help you put up the best defense possible. This can save you a hefty fine and increased insurance rates. Depending on your situation, it could even save your license and keep you out of jail.
Sufficient Insurance and Financial Responsibility: State Laws
Below is a list of financial responsibility laws for each state and the District of Columbia.
|Liability insurance required (AL Code section 32-7A-4)
|Motor vehicle liability insurance required; exemptions (AK Statutes section 28.22.011)
|Vehicle Insurance and Financial Responsibility (ARS Title 28; scroll to Chapter 9)
|Proof to be furnished for each vehicle (AR Code section 27-19-711)
|Financial Responsibility Laws (California Vehicle Code, Division 7)
|Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (CRS Title 42, Article 7)
|Proof of financial responsibility (GSC section 14-112)
|Motor vehicle liability policy (DE Code Title 21, section 2902)
|District of Columbia
|Financial responsibility; proof required for each registered vehicle (DC Code section 50-1301.52)Alternate methods of giving proof (DC Code section 50-1301.53)
|Financial Responsibility (FS Chapter 324)
|Reporting Accidents; Giving Proof of Financial Responsibility (Georgia Code Title 40, Ch. 9)
|Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act (HRS Chapter 287)
|Required motor vehicle insurance (ID Statutes section 49-1229)
|Mandatory Insurance (625 ILCS 5/7-601 to 5/7-610)
|Financial Responsibility (Indiana Code Title 9, Article 25)
|Proof of security against liability (IA Code section 321.20B)
|Liability insurance requirements (KS Statutes section 66-1314)
|Financial Responsibility Law (KRS Title 16, Chapter 187)
|Security required (LRS section 32:861)
|Financial responsibility and insurance (MRS Title 29-A, Ch. 13)
|Required Security (MD Transportation Code Title 17)
|Operating motor vehicle without liability policy, bond or security deposit (90 MGL section 34J)
|Producing evidence of motor vehicle insurance (MI Vehicle Code section 257.328)
|Criminal penalty for failure to produce proof of insurance (MN Statutes section 169.791)
|Motor vehicle safety--Responsibility (MS Code Title 63, Ch. 15)
|Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MRS Chapter 303)
|Motor Vehicle Insurance Responsibility and Verification (MCA Title 61, Ch. 6, Part 1)
|Proof of financial responsibility required (Nebraska Revised Statutes section 60-387)
|Insurance required (Nevada Revised Statutes, Title 43, section 485.185)
|Amount of proof of financial responsibility (NH Statutes section 264:20) Methods of giving proof of financial responsibility (NH Statutes section 264:21)
|Maintenance of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage (NJ Statutes section 39:6B-1)
|Vehicle must be insured or owner must have evidence of financial responsibility; penalties (NMS section 66-5-205)
|Financial security; registration (NY Vehicle & Traffic Code section 312)
|Motor Vehicle Safety and Financial Responsibility Act (NCGS Ch. 20, Article 9A)
|Motor vehicle liability policy (ND Code 39-16.1-11) Driving without liability insurance prohibited (ND Code section 39-08-20)
|Financial Responsibility (ORC Chapter 4509)
|Proof of financial responsibility (OK Statutes section 47-7-201)
|Financial Responsibility Law (OR Vehicle Code Chapter 806)
|Required financial responsibility (PA Vehicle Code 75-1786)
|Proof of Financial Responsibility for the Future (RI Code Chapter 32)
|Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act (SC Code Title 56, Ch. 9)
|Maintenance of financial responsibility--Violation as misdemeanor (SD Codified Laws section 32-35-113)
|Financial Responsibility (TN Code Title 55, Ch. 12)
|Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act (TX Transportation Code Chapter 601)
|Operating motor vehicle without owner's or operator's security -- Penalty (UT Code section 41-12a-302)
|Maintenance of financial responsibility (23 VSA section 800)
|Proof of insurance required (VA Code section 46.2-706)
|Liability insurance or other financial responsibility required (RCW section 46.30.020)
|Required security; exceptions (WV Code section 17D-2A-3)
|Vehicles--Financial Responsibility (WI Code Chapter 344)
|Liability policy defined; required coverage; additional clauses (WY Statutes 31-9-405)Types of proof (WY Statutes 31-9-402)