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Will My Driver’s License Be Suspended If I Don’t Have Insurance?

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Posted on August 22, 2023

With today’s high cost of living in California and elsewhere, it could be tempting to cut a few corners, but cutting out your car insurance isn’t the way to budget. In fact, dropping your coverage could end up costing you far more in the long run. If a law enforcement officer pulls you over for a traffic infraction, they’re likely to ask you for your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of the state’s minimum required insurance coverage. If you can’t produce proof of insurance coverage, the results could be a large fine and other penalties. But does failing to have insurance coverage automatically mean a suspended license?

What Auto Insurance Coverage is Required in California?

California is a comparative negligence insurance state. This means it matters who causes an accident. The person at fault in a car accident must pay damages including property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and more. California requires every licensed driver to carry at least the minimum car insurance liability coverage to provide compensation for accident victims. Drivers must have a valid policy in place and proof of their coverage with them when they drive. The state requires the following coverage:

  • Personal injury liability coverage of a minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability coverage of at least $5,000
  • Uninsured motorist coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
  • Uninsured motorist property damage coverage of at least $3,500 per accident

This is the minimum legally required coverage. Some drivers choose to carry additional protection.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Insurance?

The penalties for failing to provide proof of insurance when requested by an officer increase with multiple offenses:

  • Fines for first-time offenders are up to $200 plus assessment fees which can as much as double the fine
  • Fines for a second offense rise to up to $500 plus assessment fees of as much as $1,300

Failing to carry proof of auto insurance coverage typically results in the impounding of your vehicle and increased insurance rates since the state considers those fined for failing to carry adequate car insurance as high-risk drivers. You’ll also need to provide proof of insurance coverage to retrieve your car from the impound lot.

Will I lose My driver’s License for Driving Without Car Insurance?

If you’ve been pulled over for a minor traffic infraction and failed to prevent proof of insurance, your license isn’t at risk of suspension. You’ll have to pay fines and fees the state requires you to obtain the minimum coverage before you may access your impounded vehicle. However, if you have a car accident while uninsured, you face license suspension for up to 4 years. If you obtain insurance, you can provide proof of coverage to the DMV after one year to reinstate your driving privileges. California then requires you to provide proof of uninterrupted coverage annually for the next 3 years.

What if I Had Coverage But Lost My Insurance Card?

If you don’t have proof of insurance when a law enforcement officer requests it, you’ll have to pay the ticket and fees. You can appeal this citation in court and provide proof that you had coverage at the time of the ticket. In most cases, the court will excuse your ticket and charge only a minor court fee.

If you have been involved in a car accident, contact our San Diego car accident lawyers at Haffner & Morgan. We will fight aggressively to ensure you receive rightful compensation for your damages.