What Are the Penalties for Driving Uninsured in Virginia?
Although it is legal to drive without car insurance Virginia, doing so can have downsides. Every driver must either purchase insurance before registering or operating a motor vehicle or pay a special fee to drive uninsured. If you or the other driver involved in the accident does not have insurance, it can make the auto claim process more complicated. Getting caught without car insurance if you have not paid the fee can result in penalties, as well, including fines and the temporary suspension of your driver’s license. If this happens to you, it’s important to have help from an experienced Richmond personal injury attorney.
What Is the Required Insurance in Virginia?
Before the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will allow you to register your vehicle or get license plates, you must verify that you have purchased at least the minimum required amounts of auto insurance. Otherwise, you will have to pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee to register the vehicle without insurance. This is a fee of $500 to the DMV, in addition to typical fees for registering a vehicle. The $500 fee does not provide coverage for your vehicle. It simply allows you to operate a motor vehicle uninsured for the next 12 months without additional penalties.
- $25,000 in bodily injury insurance per person
- $50,000 in bodily injury insurance per accident
- $20,000 in property damage liability insurance
Virginia is an add-on no-fault car accident state. Drivers have the option to either use traditional fault insurance or pay to add on no-fault insurance. No-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance means that after any car accident, the parties involved will seek property damage and medical bill recovery from their insurance companies, even if they did not cause the crash. With PIP insurance, your insurance company will cover your damages whether or not you caused the crash.
Since Virginia is not a traditional no-fault state, you have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against a driver for the damages you suffered in an accident. If you opt for fault-based insurance, the at-fault driver will pay for your damages instead of your own insurer. This could put you at risk, however, if the other driver does not have insurance. An accident with an uninsured driver means the driver must pay for your damages out of pocket. Not all drivers have this kind of money, putting you at financial risk if you decide not to add on PIP insurance.
Penalties for Driving Uninsured or Underinsured
You must pay the $500 fee to acknowledge you are aware of the financial risks of driving without insurance if you wish to remain uninsured when you register your vehicle. If you do not pay the $500 fee but drive uninsured anyway, you could face serious penalties.
- An additional $600 noncompliance fee
- Driver’s license restriction
- Vehicle registration restriction
- $45 reinstatement fee
- Proof of insurance
- Proof of financial responsibility (SR-22 Form) for three years
Insurance with an SR-22 is often much more expensive than typical car insurance. During the three years, your insurance company will communicate with the DMV to notify them if you cancel. You must avoid any gaps in your insurance coverage, temporarily deactivate your license plate or pay the $500 uninsured registration fee if you wish to avoid penalties for illegally driving uninsured in Virginia.
What Happens After an Accident as an Uninsured Driver?
One of the greatest risks of driving without insurance in Virginia is being financially accountable in the event of an at-fault accident. Driving without insurance means you take full financial responsibility if you cause a car accident. You will have to pay out of pocket for the other person’s vehicle repairs or replacement and medical bills – not to mention your own expenses if you also suffered damages.
If you cannot afford the other person’s losses out of pocket, he or she may request the courts arrange a payment plan or garnish your wages to force you to pay. You could also face a personal injury lawsuit from the injured party. Protect yourself by purchasing insurance before you get behind the wheel in Virginia.