Driving Without Insurance


Car insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense when vehicles are costly enough with the loan payments, gas prices, and maintenance. For families already struggling to pay their other bills, auto insurance is often put on the back burner to save up for groceries and the electric bill, but this reasoning isn’t sound. The cost of driving without insurance could be considerably more than paying for the minimum required insurance in the first place. Depending on the car, coverage, and policy limits, annual car insurance in California may be around $2,000, which is a significant amount, but if an uninsured driver causes an accident, the amount can be 10 times that much in addition to any legal penalties. If they’d had insurance, the insurance company would likely have covered all or most of the cost and settled with the victims. If you find yourself facing the consequences of driving without insurance, it is important to contact a San Diego traffic lawyer.

California Law

Every state requires auto insurance in order to legally drive. It doesn’t matter if the driver has a valid license and a vehicle because there’s one more step before they can hit the road. California Vehicle Code Section 16028 says that if asked by a police officer, a driver must be able to show proof of financial responsibility. This generally means auto insurance since insurance provides financial assistance if the driver were to cause an accident.

Proof of auto insurance includes an insurer-issued card or paper that includes the insurance company’s information, the driver’s name, the policy number, and the dates of coverage. These dates are very important as many insurance premiums are paid monthly, quarterly or annually. If a driver misses a payment, they won’t be covered anymore.

A driver can also provide proof of insurance on their cell phone. Some auto insurance companies now provide proof of insurance through a mobile app.

California Vehicle Code Section 16029 makes it illegal for someone to drive without insurance lays out the statutory punishment for this traffic violation.

Type and Amount of Insurance Required

Drivers can also get in trouble if they don’t have enough insurance or the proper kind. California drivers are all required to have liability insurance that covers a minimum of $15,000 for the injury or death of another person or at least $30,000 for the injury or death of two or more people. Their insurance also needs to cover at least $5,000 in property damage.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Driving without insurance is an infraction and is punishable be a fine between $100 and $200 plus any other state assessments and fees. However, if the driver is ticketed a subsequent time for driving without insurance within 3 years of the first infraction, then the fine will be between $200 and $500.

Additionally, if the court feels it’s necessary, it can order the driver’s vehicle impounded. The driver will be required to pay all towing and storage fees. What might seem like a small infraction can actually end up costing you thousands of dollars when you have to pay the base fine, state fees, penalty assessments, and impound costs.

Penalties for Causing an Accident Without Insurance

The penalty for being caught driving without insurance may only be an infraction with financial consequences, but if you’re involved in an accident and don’t have insurance, you face more seriously penalties. The court could suspend your license for a period of time, leaving you without a way to get to work, visit family, or go out with friends.

You’re also open to civil litigation. If you’re at fault for an accident and don’t have insurance, the victims of the crash will likely sue you directly to recover for their property damage and injuries. Depending on the seriousness of the situation and the victim’s injuries, you could owe hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A driver may be able to avoid an infraction if they can show that they had insurance but merely didn’t have the insurance card with them at the time. The infraction might also be dismissed if you acquire insurance and can bring proof of insurance to the court.

Contact a San Diego Traffic Attorney

If you were unable to show proof of insurance to a police officer and received a ticket, call a San Diego traffic attorney right away to learn more about the offense and your rights. Instead of facing hefty fines, you may be able to acquire adequate insurance and ask for the charge to be dismissed. This is even more crucial if it’s your second offense.

Jessica McElfresh is an experienced attorney with years of traffic law experience. She understands the many reasons behind forgoing auto insurance, and she’ll do what she can to help you move past this ticket. Call us today at (858) 756-7107.