If you are thinking of avoiding paying for your California state auto insurance to save on costs, then think again. Driving without insurance in California could cost you far more than the price of monthly insurance.
Auto insurance coverage is not only important for your financial protection while driving your car, but it is also legal requirement to have proper coverage in order to drive in California. You could potentially face severe penalties and costs if you are caught driving without car insurance California.
What Happens When You Get Pulled Over?
California is generally known for imposing some of the most severe penalties for criminal and civil violations compared to other states. However, when it comes to driving without insurance, the penalties are significantly lower than some its neighboring states.
But that does not mean that you won’t feel the sting. California Vehicle Code Section 16029 makes it illegal to drive in the state without evidence of financial responsibility. That means that if you are driving without insurance in CA and get a no insurance ticket, you will be facing even harsher penalties.
Penalties and Fees
Drivers in California who are caught without valid car insurance can be ordered to pay a minimum fine of $100 for the first offense. Additional fees and penalties will increase the base amount of $100 to about $450.
The penalty amount increases with successive violations. If you are caught driving without insurance California again within the next 3 years then you could be fined anywhere between $200 and $500. Fees and penalty assessments will increase the base cost of $200 to $900 while $500 will cost around $2,500.
To put that into perspective, it is common – even in the most expensive parts of California like Los Angeles of San Francisco – for California quotes to be far less than $150 per month.
There are additional consequences apart from paying the fine. The police can have the vehicles uninsured motorists in California impounded if you are caught driving without insurance coverage in CA. They have the authority to impound your car even if it is your first offense. On top of this, the DMV can even suspend your license for a maximum of 4 years. Driving without a license is a crime and if you get your license suspended you will drastically have to change your lifestyle.
You will have to prove that you are no longer driving without insurance CA to get your vehicle back. You will also have to pay for towing and storage of your car. Vehicle storage fees are often quite expensive.
Apart from the possible suspension and heavy penalties, there is also an additional cost of acquiring expensive car insurance following any insurance-related tickets. Uninsured motorists CA will find it more expensive to get insurance because the insurance companies will treat you as a high-risk driver.
DMV records are available to every insurance company and these records will clearly state your reluctance in procuring legally required insurance.
If you don’t want to deal with the California quotes related to car insurance, you do not need to obtain a traditional insurance policy. The Golden State gives the option to obtain a self-insurance certificate. This is usually given by the DMV and requires providing evidence of a $35,000 cash deposit.
- What Happens When You Are Involved in an Accident?
Proof of financial responsibility in California includes auto insurance, self-insurance certificates, cash deposit of proof of surety bonds.
It is important to carry one of these certificates in the car at all times as evidence that you are not driving without insurance. Auto accidents are traumatic without the added hassle of not having insurance. For uninsured motorists, an accident can not only be physically harming, but financially crippling.
Regardless of the magnitude of accident, it is your duty and responsibility to pull over and call 911. On arrival, the police will require to see your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and car registration. If you are on a busy street, make sure you pull over to safely move your far away from the flow of traffic if possible.
If you are driving without insurance CA, your license can be suspended immediately if you do not have proof of insurance. This can happen even if you are not at fault in the accident. Since you’re not going to risk driving without a license, drive without insurance is a foolish and unnecessary risk.
The California Law makes it illegal to drive without valid insurance regardless whether your car is registered in the state or you are merely passing through. Once your license is suspended, you might have to wait for a whole year to reinstate the license. Also, you will have to obtain valid insurance and pay a re-issuance fee while submitting the proof.
SR-22 is provided by your insurance company to the DMV when you are seeking to reinstate your license. This is usually done in the case of license suspension in DUI cases. However, they are very common in driving without insurance as well.
Bear in mind that the proof of Financial Responsibility Certificate issued by an insurance company comes only with expensive SR-22 insurance policies.
- Civil Costs
Accidents can cause serious damage to property and life. Without the right coverage you are making yourself vulnerable to expensive things like lawsuits. You will be responsible for the cost of resulting damage if you are the one at fault. This includes damage to all vehicles, medical costs, and payment for injuries to all third parties.
California requires all drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage which means that their insurance company will cover their damages when you are without an insurance coverage and at fault. However, this does not let you off the hook because you can be sued for your assets by the insurance company to recover their costs.
An insurance company can take into account all other assets you have such as equity in your home. You might lose your home in the process. You are also responsible for damage to other public and private property such as street signs, storefronts and bus stop fixtures among others.
What Are the Minimum Insurance Requirements in California?
All drivers in California are required to have valid evidence of financial responsibility. The minimum insurance requirements are $15,000 for injury or death of one person and $30,000 for injury or death of two or more.
It must include the minimum coverage of $5,000 for property damage as well. Most drivers in California carry a traditional company-issued insurance card, which includes information about the driver and insurance company.
What to Do When Caught Driving Without Insurance?
Whether you have involved in an accident or pulled over by the police in California, it is best to call an attorney immediately if you are driving without a valid insurance certificate. You will need professional advice on how to proceed from there in order to get a lighter penalty and fine.
The Bottom Line
The risk of driving without insurance in California is just not worth it. You could lose your driving privileges and you will face punishment from the state. It is wise to pay for an adequate auto insurance policy or a self-insurance certificate, if you do not like paying for conventional coverage.