Driving without insurance in Texas attracts severe penalties and fines that range between $175 and $350. Whether you’re driving on an open back road or in the city, the state requires every motorist to provide proof of insurance. Alternatively, a driver can give a cashier or deposit check with a minimum of $50,000 as proof of financial responsibility.
The State Department of Insurance estimates that over four million cars in Texas are not insured. However, through the TexasSure Program, law enforcement agencies can immediately ascertain your insurance status when they pull you over.
Insurance Requirement for Motorists in Texas
According to Texas Transportation code 60.053, all drivers must obtain liability car insurance, have proof of insurance at all times, and present it to traffic officers upon request. The coverage caters to property damage, medical care, and significant losses occurring after an accident. Below is an overview of the minimum car insurance requirements in Texas:
- $25,000 for auto repair
- $30,000 for an individual medical bill
- $60,000 for treatment of everyone that obtains a personal injury during the accident
If the car is on lease or obtained through a loan, the loan provider or lender should have an additional collision or comprehensive coverage. This coverage will cover damages caused by natural calamities, the driver, or other reasons.
Understanding Proof of Insurance
Texas law requires all motorists to have their insurance certificates present in the vehicle. The document comes in handy while taking the car for registration, renewing its registration, taking it for inspection, or acquiring a driver’s license. Keep a copy of the insurance card in your wallet, glove compartment, or save an electronic copy on your phone.
What if you forgot your insurance card at home? It’s hard to prove your car is insured without a card, so be sure to keep it handy. Your insurance card includes the following:
- Policy number of the coverage
- The insurer’s name
- The make of the vehicle and its year of manufacture
- The due date for the policy renewal
- The policyholder’s name and address
Penalties for a First Time Offender
Texas offers hefty fines and penalties for individuals caught driving without auto insurance. Failure to produce valid auto insurance amounts to a minimum fine of $175 and a maximum of $350.
Insurance firms consider motorists driving without liability insurance as high-risk drivers. These drivers have to pay higher costs for their car insurance policy. Also, a driver must fill out the SR-22 form through their insurer as evidence that you have the required liability coverage.
Penalties for Repeat Offenders
The penalties for driving with no car insurance become more severe from the second encounter with traffic officers and subsequent occasions. Judges in Texas don’t entertain second offenses, whereby they rule on long suspension periods and hefty fines. A driver has to part with a minimum of $350 to $1000 fine for each ticket.
Drivers with severe cases are slapped with a 180-day vehicle impoundment. After 180 days, a driver will need to provide financial responsibility evidence for its release. All impounded cars are subjected to a daily fee of $15, equivalent to $2700 in total.
Suspension of vehicle registration or the driver’s license is another penalty for repeat offenders. The suspension duration depends on whether offenders have covered their vehicles through the second anniversary since their last conviction. Besides paying hefty fines, these drivers might get a penalty that includes short suspension periods.
Drawbacks for Accidents Caused by Uninsured Drivers
Regardless of how cautious you drive, you can’t tell when an accident is bound to happen. However, drivers with uninsured vehicles face severe repercussions that include impoundment of a car. The responsible driver for the collision will be accountable for car damage and bodily injuries.
Drivers whose vehicles cause a collision resulting in death or severe injuries pay $4000 and a one-year jail term. The state suspends the driver’s license and vehicle registration after the collision for two years. You’ll need to file for an SR-22 form after three years for the reinstatement of a driving license and vehicle registration.
Consequences of Driving Without Auto Insurance in Texas
Accident victims in Texas can hold drivers liable for injuries, losses incurred, and property damage. Once the accident occurs, the affected parties will file claims against the faulty driver according to liability insurance guidelines.
What happens to drivers whose vehicles don’t have coverage at the time of an accident? Texas law requires such drivers to compensate the victims or face lawsuits. If you delay in settling the agreed amount, a victim can use a judge to compel you to pay. The judge will demand payments from your bank account and recommend asset liquidation for expensive lawsuits.
Can You Appeal Without an Insurance Penalty?
If police officers cannot confirm details of your insurance policy using TexasSure, they’ll give you a ticket for driving with no car insurance. However, you can appeal in a court and plead not guilty to the fine by sending a letter or by in person. The court will then set a trial where you can provide them with your insurance certificate as proof. Although you’ll end up paying court costs, you’ll get a reduced fine.
Steps to Take in a Collision Involving Uninsured Motorists
If your accident involves uninsured motorists, you have all the rights. If you establish that the driver that rammed into your vehicle has no insurance coverage, inform the police immediately. This way, the police officers will issue a citation to the at-fault party or revoke the driving license for driving without insurance.
With a police report, file a claim with your insurance provider. Most insurance firms cover damages caused by uninsured drivers in a collision. However, it’s important to ask whether your coverage provider caters to such a collision since it’s not mandatory in Texas. If the insurance provider cannot cover these damages, start a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover the damages.
Driving without insurance looks like a good saving strategy, but it’s the worst thing a driver can do. It can lead to hefty fines, suspension of a driver’s license, and extra vehicle registration fees.
Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.
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