Although driving without insurance is not a criminal offense in the state of California, you may still face severe penalties if you are found guilty of this traffic violation. Under CA Vehicle Code 16028 – Driving Without Insurance, you could be at risk for a variety of consequences that could have a lasting impact on your life.
It is important to take steps to clear your name of the allegations against you if you hope to avoid the fallout of a driving-without-insurance conviction. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer could help you resolve the matter as soon as possible so you can put this inconvenient experience behind you.
What Is CA Vehicle Code 16028?
According to California Vehicle Code 16028, all California drivers are required to be financially responsible for their vehicles. This includes carrying proof of auto insurance coverage.
Any driver who fails to carry such proof of financial responsibility may be charged with an infraction. Anyone convicted of an infraction under CA Vehicle Code 16028 could be ordered to pay fines as high as $500 and face other penalties.
What Is California’s Financial Responsibility Law?
The financial responsibility law in California is laid out in California Vehicle Code 16028. Here, drivers will be required to show proof of auto insurance coverage, particularly liability insurance coverage if they get into an accident, when they register their vehicle, when they renew their vehicle registration, or any time a law enforcement officer asks for proof of liability insurance coverage.
However, it should be noted that officers do not have the authority to stop drivers with the sole intention of determining whether they have auto insurance coverage. If law enforcement officers have a valid reason for stopping a car or other motor vehicle, then police have the authority to request proof of financial responsibility.
If you are asked for proof of liability coverage, you can do so by showing police a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) authorized letter, your auto insurance card provided to you by your insurance provider, providing police with form REG 5085, the Notification of Alternative Forms of Responsibility, or a copy of form SR-22, the California Proof of Insurance Certificate.
California Auto Insurance Requirements
If you are hoping to avoid an infraction for driving without insurance under CA Vehicle Code 16028, you need to make sure to carry sufficient auto insurance coverage. Under the law, you are required to carry minimum amounts of certain types of auto insurance coverage. These types and amounts of coverage include:
- $5,000 in property damage liability coverage
- $15,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage
- $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
It should be noted that California does not require drivers to purchase collision, comprehensive, rental car coverage, gap insurance, or coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. If you are hoping to protect yourself to the fullest, it is important to purchase these add-ons so you can reduce your financial liability if you are responsible for causing an accident in the future.
Penalties for Driving without Insurance in CA
Driving without insurance is not a criminal offense in the state of California. However, according to VC 16028, you could be fined up to $500 for driving without insurance. However, with penalty assessments and administrative fines, this number could dramatically increase to as much as $1,200.
Generally, if you were lacking sufficient insurance coverage but are able to show to the court that you have obtained coverage soon after you were cited, the prosecutor may be more inclined to dismiss the infraction against you or reduce your fine. This is commonly referred to as a “correctable offense”, as court officials are less likely to proceed if you can show them proof of auto insurance coverage. In this way, you may be able to avoid even having to bring your case to court.
Additionally, there is a risk that your vehicle could be impounded if you do not have sufficient auto insurance coverage when you are stopped by law enforcement officers. You will need to obtain sufficient insurance coverage and proof of financial responsibility before you can retrieve your vehicle from the impound lot.
Defending Against Charges for Driving without Insurance Under CA Vehicle Code 16028
If you are hoping to avoid the penalties associated with driving without insurance, it is important to take steps to clear your name. By providing the court with proof of financial liability, you can generally avoid many of the penalties associated with a guilty verdict. In some instances, your driving without insurance lawyer may be able to work with the state’s prosecuting attorney and get the infraction against you reduced.
However, if this is a second-time offense or you have been accused of driving without a license on multiple occasions, it is more likely that the prosecutor will be unwilling to reduce or dismiss your charges. In court, we may need to show proof of insurance coverage at the time of the stop if you hope to avoid a conviction. Otherwise, we may need to provide the court with an affirmative defense.
If you had just cause for operating the vehicle at the time of the stop, despite having insufficient insurance coverage, you may be able to avoid the fallout of a conviction for this infraction. For example, if you were in an emergency situation and heading to a hospital at the time of the stop, the courts may be willing to dismiss your infraction altogether.
Get Help from a Driving without Insurance Lawyer
The consequences of driving without insurance can be costly. It is important to take steps to protect your driving record and your name if you hope to avoid the penalties of a conviction under CA Vehicle Code 16028 – Driving Without Insurance.
Reach out to a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer for help protecting yourself. You can start working on your defense as soon as today when you fill out our confidential contact form or call us to schedule your free case review.