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Potential Risks for Driving Without Insurance

Posted on February 18, 2024 in

Driving without insurance is a gamble that can lead to serious consequences. Understanding the risks associated with driving uninsured is crucial for all motorists. While the decision to drive without insurance is often made in haste or due to oversight, it can lead to a series of legal and financial risks, affecting not only the driver but also others on the road.

When faced with the repercussions of driving without insurance, the situation can feel overwhelming. However, professional legal advice can provide clarity and assistance. At Jensen Phelan Law Firm, we specialize in personal injury law and are dedicated to guiding individuals through the complexities that arise from driving without insurance, offering support every step of the way.

Legal and Financial Consequences of Driving Without Insurance

Driving without insurance is a legal violation with serious repercussions. Most states, including Arizona, mandate a minimum level of liability insurance for drivers. Those caught without this insurance face significant legal and financial consequences. The penalties are not just limited to fines, which can be quite substantial, especially for repeat offenses. Drivers may also face the suspension of their driving privileges, which often requires the completion of certain legal processes and additional costs to reinstate, further exacerbating the financial burden.

Additionally, the financial implications extend beyond penalties. In the event of an accident, uninsured drivers are personally liable for all damages incurred. This includes not just the costs of vehicle repairs but also potentially extensive medical expenses, compensation for lost wages, and other damages suffered by the accident victims. These expenses can accumulate quickly, leading to significant financial strain. The absence of insurance protection means these costs come directly out of the uninsured driver’s pocket (all your non-exempt assets), potentially leading to long-term financial hardship or even bankruptcy. You should NOT drive without liability insurance coverage to protect you from the claims of others if there is an accident.

Not always known is that even an uninsured motorist can claim negligence damages against the adverse driver, but that leads to complexities that almost always require a lawyer to untangle.

Insurance Premiums and Legal Implications

Once a driver is flagged as having driven without insurance, future insurance coverage becomes more complicated and much more expensive. Insurance companies usually increase premiums for drivers they consider high-risk, which typically includes those with a history of driving uninsured. The result is long-term financial impact, as these increased auto insurance premiums will likely persist for years. Furthermore, obtaining auto insurance after a collision during your lapse in current auto insurance coverage is challenging, with some insurers hesitant to provide coverage. This situation not only affects the driver’s wallet long-term but also limits your future mobility and independence.

Without an insurer to handle claims, the uninsured driver faces the daunting task of navigating complex legal processes independently or having to pay for the hourly fees of a lawyer (not the contingent percentage legal fees of an injured claimant). In personal injury claims, this lack of legal representation (opposing the insurer who has legal representation) can put the uninsured driver at a severe disadvantage with bad results. Bankruptcy is one of the possible outcomes. 

When driving without auto insurance, there are additional legal consequences and charges that may arise, adding to the complexity of the situation. These can include:

  • Vehicle impoundment (and it may be held by law enforcement until accident-related issues are resolved)
  • Court appearances (both criminal and civil)
  • Civil penalties can result per ARS 28-4235 including SR-22 requirements (see below).

While driving with no insurance violation is not criminal, it is one of the most expensive civil violations you can receive.  Here are the penalties:

  • The first time you are found responsible for not having insurance, your driver’s license, registration, and license plates will be suspended for three months.  You will also be fined about $1,000.
  • If you are found responsible a second time for not having insurance within a 36 month time span, your driver’s license, registration, and license plates will be suspended for six months.  You will also be fined about $1,400.
  • If you are found responsible a third time for not having insurance within a 36 month time span, your driver’s license, registration, and license plates will be suspended for one year.  You will also be fined about $1,860.
  • Additionally, when you are found responsible for not having insurance, you will be required to maintain an SR-22 certificate for 36 months. If you don’t maintain the certificate during those 36 months, your driving privileges will be indefinitely suspended.

What Is An SR22 Certificate?

If you are found responsible for driving without insurance, you will be required to provide proof that you have insurance when you go to get your license, registration, and plates reinstated. However, because you have been found responsible for driving without insurance, simply providing your insurance card is not enough.  You will be required to obtain what is called an SR-22 certificate from your insurance company.  The SR-22 certificate is not an insurance policy, but it certifies to the state that you are insured up to $40,000 and that you will be insured for a particular amount of time in the future.  Getting insurance when you need an SR-22 is expensive because when you tell your insurance company that you need an SR-22 certificate, they assume you are a high-risk driver.

Even if you’re currently uninsured, it’s essential to understand your rights and options in the event of an accident. Arizona law, for example, provides certain protections and avenues for recourse, but navigating these legal pathways requires a deep understanding of personal injury law. Jensen Phelan Law Firm, with our extensive experience and knowledge in this area, can help you consider these options so you can make informed decisions about your case.

Call Jensen Phelan Law Firm If You Are In Trouble For Driving Without Insurance

Dealing with the aftermath of driving without insurance can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. At Jensen Phelan Law Firm, we have over 65 years of combined experience in personal injury law, meaning our clients receive tenacious, caring, and effective legal representation. Our client-focused approach means we invest time and effort in achieving the best possible outcomes, even in the most challenging cases.

If you or someone you know is facing legal challenges due to driving without insurance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call (928) 778-2660 or fill out our contact form.