Driving Without Insurance
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All drivers in California are required to possess auto liability insurance. In an accident, injured drivers need resources to compensate for them for medical expenses, lost wages and for property damage. By not being insured, the injured party may have to look to their own insurer, if they possess uninsured coverage, or to a state fund for compensation. In any case, uninsured drivers contribute to growing insurance premiums for other drivers who have to absorb the cost.
As a California motorist, you are required to have the following minimum coverage:
- 15,000 for death or injury for any one person in one accident
- $30,000 for all persons in any one accident
- Property damage liability of $5000 for any one accident
You have to show proof of auto liability insurance if you are lawfully stopped by a law enforcement officer or if you have been involved in a property damage or injury accident. You also have to provide proof when you are registering your car or renewing your car’s registration.
Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance
If you are caught driving without insurance, the police officer can have your car towed away and impounded. Your car will not be released to you until you can show proof of financial responsibility. In the meantime, you will be charged for the towing and daily storage charges.
Your fine for lacking auto liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility in California is $796. It may be reduced once you can produce proof of insurance coverage to the court. A second offense will cost you at least that much. If your car was not impounded, the court will typically order it until you produce proof of insurance.
- License suspension
Should you have been involved in an accident and were driving an uninsured vehicle, the DMV, or Department of Motor Vehicles, will suspend your driving license within 30-days of the department receiving the traffic accident report or information. Your suspension will be for 4 years, though you can apply for reinstatement after one year once you provide proof of insurance to the DMV and continue the insurance coverage for the following 3 years.
Collateral Consequences of Driving Uninsured
If you are uninsured and cause property damage or injure someone, you are personally liable for any damages incurred by the victim. If the injured party had uninsured coverage, his or her insured may pay up to the limits of the policy, but the insurer will come after you for reimbursement. A judgment can cost you thousands of dollars and may cause you to file for bankruptcy protection if a judgment is secured against you.
Injured victims may, however, choose to come after your assets, especially if the victims were pedestrians or otherwise not covered for their injuries.
Contact a traffic ticket lawyer if you were ticketed for driving without insurance to explore your legal options and your best course of action.