Getting caught driving without insurance can result in an abundance of penalties. Every state in the US requires motor vehicles to be insured and drivers to have proof of their auto insurance in their vehicles while driving. This means there is no reason why a person should operate their vehicle without it being insured and without having proof of insurance.
The penalties for driving without car insurance in the state of California are a bit harsher compared to other US states. These punishments for driving uninsured include:
- Fines up to $200 for first-time offenders
- Fine up to $500 for a second offense
- Penalty assessment fees which triple the fine amount
- Vehicle being impounded
- Your driver’s license being suspended for 1 year after a collision
- Your driver’s license being suspended for 4 years after causing multiple collisions
You can face harsh consequences for not having auto insurance when you were involved in a traffic collision or if you are pulled over for another traffic violation. The best way to avoid these penalties is to make sure your car is insured when you purchase it. Do not purchase a vehicle if you cannot pay the monthly auto insurance costs.
What Are California’s Insurance Coverage Laws?
In California, the legally required amount of coverage can be broken down into three main categories:
- Bodily injury liability coverage per person – $15,000
- Bodily injury liability coverage per accident – $30,000
- Property damage liability coverage – $5,000
This legally obligated amount of liability can help you in the event of a serious accident, but it can also help others that may have been harmed or sustained property damage. It is important to know that having auto insurance but not having the sufficient legal amount (15/30/5 as some insurers might refer to it as) is still considered illegal. You can face the same penalties as those who have no auto insurance at all.
On that same note, having auto insurance but not having any physical proof of it is also illegal. The police officer will not know for certain if you are driving an insured vehicle, so they have to treat it as if you are not insured. You can face the same penalties as those who have no auto insurance at all.
Most auto insurers offer digital cards that are viewable on a phone, which police typically accept as proof of insurance.
Can You Still Get Insured After a Lapse in Coverage?
There is still an opportunity to obtain coverage if you have allowed your auto insurance to lapse. Not all car insurance companies will offer coverage because you will be considered a higher-risk driver due to a lapse.
However, there are insurance providers that specialize in higher-risk drivers who may not have the best driving track record. We encourage you to explore your options to determine which company is the best choice for you and your family.
Getting auto insurance after being cited for having a lapse in coverage can also help your criminal defense case. This is because your criminal defense attorney can argue to either drop the charges or lower the penalties if you plan on getting insured immediately. This shows the prosecutors and judge that you have taken the citation seriously. Cooperating with the law is always beneficial to your defense case.
How Much Does Auto Insurance Cost in California?
The average cost of car insurance in the golden state is $2,190 annually, which is $182.50 a month. For the greater Los Angeles area, the average cost of car insurance is $2,941 annually, which is $245.08 a month. The average cost for the top 3 insurance providers is:
- Geico – $1,841 a year or $153 a month
- Progressive – $2,034 a year or $169 a month
- State Farm – $2,258 a year or $188 a month
The other insurance providers not listed have similar rates to these top 3 companies. You can also get covered by a higher-risk driver insurance plan if these top 3 providers do not accept you. The cost of your premiums will also be based on other factors, such as your age, location, your vehicle, and, most importantly, your driving record/insurance history.
You will most likely have to pay more than the average cost if you have a record of getting in trouble with the law or a history of not having auto insurance.
How to Appeal Your Fine?
You can appeal a fine for driving without proof of insurance by appearing in court and providing sufficient evidence that you were indeed insured the day you were pulled over. Although, you may still need to pay a $20 administrative fee even if the judge clears you of wrongdoing.
This process may be a bit more complicated if you were involved in a traffic accident without proof of insurance. This is where a criminal defense lawyer can help you appeal the fines and minimize the other penalties.
Having no auto insurance coverage before getting pulled over by the police means that you will more than likely lose an appeal for your fines.
How “No Pay, No Play” Works
Getting into a motor vehicle accident with no coverage means that you are not capable of suing the at-fault driver for personal injury and pain and suffering. This is because California is a “no pay, no play” state. You cannot seek financial compensation for non-economic damages if you do not pay money towards mandated auto insurance.
Not only can you not file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver while driving uninsured, but the other parties involved can sue you. This is especially true if you were the at-fault driver. It is crucial to know and understand this because now you will have to pay a lot more money for both the initial fines and the ensuing lawsuit.
This makes it all the more apparent why you should hire a criminal defense attorney following a serious accident where you were driving uninsured.