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What is the Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in Virginia?

If you are caught driving without car insurance in Virginia, you risk being penalized with a Class 3 misdemeanor, a suspension of your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and license plates.  There may also be a fine if you have not paid your uninsured motorist fee. Driving without car insurance is legal in the state of Virginia, but it can come at an expensive cost.

Typically, drivers are given two options: purchase insurance before operating their vehicle or pay an uninsured vehicle fee of $500 to drive without coverage. However, driving uninsured in Virginia isn’t that simple. If you are involved in a vehicle collision and lack insurance coverage, the claims process to retrieve funds or disburse them can become complex.

It may be tempting to drive without insurance to save money, but the risk of being in an accident is present each time that you get in your car. Uninsured motorists in Virginia will be held responsible for all property damage, injuries, and other accident-related expenses if they get into a car crash.

What are the Penalties for Driving Uninsured or Underinsured in Virginia?

You must pay the $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee to demonstrate you are aware of the financial hazards of driving without insurance if you desire to remain uninsured when registering your vehicle. If the $500 uninsured motorist coverage fee is not paid and this is not a subsequent offense, you may face the following consequences:

  • A $600 noncompliance fee
  • A restriction may be placed on your driver’s license
  • A restriction may be placed on registering your vehicle 
  • $45 reinstatement fee
  • Proof of auto coverage requirement
  • Proof of financial responsibility (SR-22 Form) for a minimum of three years

SR-22 insurance is frequently substantially more expensive than regular auto insurance. Your insurance provider will keep in touch with the DMV throughout the course of the three years to let them know if you cancel.

If you wish to avoid penalties for illegally driving without insurance in Virginia, you must avoid any gaps in your insurance coverage, temporarily deactivate your license plate, or pay the $500 uninsured registration charge.

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What Happens Next if I’m in a Wreck and Uninsured?

Uninsured drivers in Virginia take the risk of being financially accountable for damages, injuries, lost wages, mental anguish, and more if they get into an accident and are found to be at fault

You will be obligated to pay out of pocket for the other person’s vehicle replacement or repair bills, hospital bills, treatment options, pain and suffering, and all accident-related costs, including your own. 

The accident victim may ask the court to set you up on a payment plan or garnish your salary if you are unable to cover their damages upfront. You can potentially be the target of a personal injury lawsuit from the victim.

No matter how careful you are behind the wheel, one mistake might ruin your financial future. You can choose to drive without car insurance in Virginia, but the penalty may cost thousands of dollars in damages if you end up in a car accident. 

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What Happens if I Can’t Verify Insurance Coverage in Virginia?

Even though driving uninsured is legal in Virginia, the police will likely want proof of insurance from you if you are in an accident. If you don’t have an insurance card on you, you can contest the ticket and bring valid insurance to court. The ticket will not be present on your driving records, but you may still be responsible for court fees. 

You can also ask for a hearing if you are accused of driving without insurance and haven’t paid the fine in order to request leniency so that the state shouldn’t punish you. You have 180 days to complete this, and if you choose to do so, hiring legal counsel can vastly improve your success. 

Long-term incarceration, military deployment, or sickness are common excuses for letting your insurance lapse.

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What is the Process for Requesting an SR-22 Form?

In Virginia, if you are caught driving without insurance, you may need to submit an SR-22 form before you can get your license back. The phrase “Certificate of Financial Responsibility” is another name for an SR-22 form. These documents attest to your possession of the least amount of liability insurance required by the state.

Most auto insurance companies will send you an SR-22 form after you contact them. Most providers can give you these forms without charging you anything, but they will indicate on your record that you require one. If your provider is unable to provide you with an SR-22 form, Virginia may compel you to get new insurance coverage.

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What are the Required Auto Coverage Amounts in Virginia?

If you choose to opt out of car insurance in Virginia, you must pay the required uninsured motor vehicle fee to register your car without insurance. This cost accompanies other registration fees and will not provide any type of auto insurance for your vehicle. Its sole purpose is to allow uninsured drivers the ability to operate their vehicles on Virginia’s public roads without additional penalization. 

If you decide to drive with proper security, the Virginia DMV will verify if you have purchased the required coverage amount before registering your car and receiving license plates. 

The following minimum requirements for auto coverage in Virginia are: 

  • $25,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage
  • $50,000 per collision in bodily injury liability coverage
  • $20,000 in property damage liability insurance

How to Prevent Paying Out-of-Pocket While Driving in Virginia?

For optimal protection after a vehicle collision, it is highly recommended that you carry auto insurance with personal injury protection (PIP) included. PIP is optional and may increase the amount of your annual car insurance premiums, but it provides financial and mental security that you will not incur any out-of-pocket costs if involved in a wreck. 

Also, it will be much simpler for you to receive compensation right away following your injury with the PIP addition. You should have no trouble getting your insurance company to reimburse your receipts as long as you can show them to them. If they don’t, one of our car accident attorneys can request this for you.

Verify Proof of Insurance Beforehand

The state of Virginia makes it convenient to register your auto policy through the state’s Electronic Insurance Verification Program. Doing so allows you to evade any fines or penalties for driving uninsured in Virginia. The steps are easy, you just have to provide proof of insurance coverage to the program online, by mail, or in person at the DMV.

Update License Plates and Insurance Coverage

If you are permanently moving to Virginia, canceling your previous state’s license plates is a necessity. You will also need to change the address for your auto insurance coverage to reflect your Virginia residence. To prevent confusion at the Virginia DMV, both should be done prior to registering your car.

If you cancel your insurance policy but don’t cancel your license plates, the Virginia DMV may automatically register you as an uninsured motorist. For clarification on transferring your insurance policy between cars or state vehicular requirements, contact the Virginia DMV. 

Alternatively, our attorneys are also a resource that can provide direction on the proper steps to take prior to your move.

Is it Necessary to Get a Lawyer if I am Uninsured and Get Into an Auto Collision?

Having a lawyer that knows personal injury and auto insurance law is helpful to anyone who is operating a vehicle without insurance. Not only will they assess fault, but they can also negotiate with insurance agents on your behalf in case vehicle repairs can be reduced to a lower rate. 

A motor vehicle crash is hard to handle alone, but an underinsured motorist attorney will fight to minimize your legal consequences and protect you from additional penalties.

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