Can my car be impounded for no insurance?

Can your car get impounded for no insurance? If you're pulled over and the police officer sees that you are not insured, they'll have your car impounded.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • It’s against the law to drive without car insurance
  • Every state has their own state minimum requirements that are dictated by state officials
  • If you are pulled over and law enforcement discovers that you are not insured, the police officer will have the vehicle towed and impounded

One of the most important reasons to carry active auto insurance at all times is for the financial protection that it provides.

Individuals who choose to drive uninsured are at risk of having an uninsured accident, where they will be left to pay for all of the third-party damages on their own or face civil legal action.

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Rates of Uninsured Drivers throughout the State

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Not only will you face piles of repair bills and medical bills for treatment, but you could also face losing your car for failing to comply with the law.

Since all states have some form of financial responsibility or mandatory insurance law, most vehicle owners are required to carry at least a minimal amount of liability insurance on vehicles that are registered to be driven on public roadways.

Driving a car that has no insurance is a violation of the law and can lead to several penalties.

Many people focus on the cost of fines for no insurance infractions or the cost of buying insurance once you have a no insurance conviction.

While studies conducted by the Insurance Information Institute show that about 12.6 percent of drivers nationwide are guilty of driving without insurance, the rate in the states with the highest number of uninsured drivers can be as high as 25 percent.

The rate of uninsured drivers in the state that you live in can really dictate whether or not the penalties for getting behind the wheel without an active policy will be strict.

In states that have a serious problem with drivers violating insurance laws, the penalties will be stiff and judges will be more likely to buckle down and order higher fines.

States that have a lower instance of uninsured drivers may still have strict penalties, but the consequences for driving without insurance just one time in states that do not tend to have a serious problem could be minor.

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Why are the rates of uninsured drivers in some states higher than others?

Every state has their own state minimum requirements that are dictated by state officials. The rates of drivers vary from state to state, and just one of the factors that can affect these rates is what limits of liability and coverage options are required.

This is because these requirements will drive the premiums up and make maintaining the cover much more difficult for people living on limited incomes.

In states where higher limits and other forms of coverage are required, the percentage of drivers in the state who violate the law are higher.

Another reason for the high rates of drivers with no insurance could be because of the rate of unemployment in the state. States that have been more affected by the economic recession have lower average incomes.

This statistic means that some just cannot afford to pay for their insurance, but that is not always the case.

States, where there are higher populations of younger drivers, have higher uninsured motorist rates too.

There is not just one specific reason why the rates are high, but there is definitely a correlation between insurance affordability and the rate of uninsured drivers.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance in your state?

 

There is a long list of different penalties and consequences that you can face for driving without insurance. Some of the indirect and direct consequences for violating the law are the same across all state lines, and some are unique to specific states.

It is not out of the question for your car to be impounded for no insurance, but this only happens in certain situations.

Here are some of the unique consequences that you should know about that you might not know exists:

Driver License and License Plate Suspensions

Can you imagine losing your driving privilege because you failed to comply with the law? This is a very real consequence of driving uninsured.

You have the freedom to choose whether or not to comply with the law, but making the wrong choice results in a loss of your privileges.

First, your license plates will be suspended, but multiple convictions could lead to a suspension of your driver’s license.

Inflated Fines and Fees

Gone are the days where an infraction would only cost you $100. Now, state officials are allowed to assess fines in the thousands for drivers who do not have insurance.

Some states can assess large fines and order you to pay other fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The money that you pay for violating the law could actually be more than you would pay for an entire year of full coverage.

The No-pay, No-play Law

Some states take enforcement very seriously. This is why a new law called the No-pay, no-play law is being adopted. This law states that anyone who does not have insurance cannot collect claims payments even when the other party is at fault.

Essentially, if you break the law you cannot be a claimant in a collision loss for injuries or damages.

Towing Vehicles and Ordered Impounds

One of the most effective penalties that are starting to be enforced around the country is vehicle impoundment.

If you are pulled over and law enforcement discovers that you are not insured, the police officer will have the vehicle towed and impounded.

Most of the time, the only time this is a penalty you need to worry about is when you operate a vehicle with no insurance.

When this is required, you must pay the towing, impound, and storage fees before you will get your vehicle back.

If your car is impounded, there is a good chance you will not get it back. To prevent this from occurring, you should buy insurance immediately.

If you do not have coverage, start comparing car insurance rates now by entering your ZIP code in our FREE tool below!


Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by State