What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Michigan?

Driving without car insurance in MI is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $1,000 and suspension of your license. Repeat offenders may receive jail time.

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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...

  • Michigan law considered uninsured driving a misdemeanor crime
  • Misdemeanor crimes are subject to jail time
  • Michigan law allows drivers to buy insurance and present proof to reinstate their license

Driving without insurance is against the law in Michigan, and doing so results in major penalties and fines for drivers who think they can get away with it.

If you are stopped or involved in an accident of any sort, you’re required to present the police officers at the scene with proof of insurance.

If you cannot do that, you will immediately face the consequences. If you’re driving without insurance or considering doing so, it’s helpful to understand why it’s so much more affordable to just purchase insurance than it is to drive without.

Compare car insurance quotes today to find the coverage you need at the best rate. Enter your zip code into our free tool above to get started.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Michigan

If you own a car, you must own an insurance policy to go with your vehicle. This rule is just as true for people who finance their car through a lender as it is for those who own their car outright. Your ownership does not exempt you from purchasing insurance.

Some drivers mistakenly assume they can cancel their policy when they make their last car payment. Other drivers might believe they can’t afford car insurance.

If you believe you can’t afford insurance, it’s time for you to shop around and compare rates. Even the most expensive insurance policy is still more affordable than being caught without insurance during an accident or routine traffic stop.

The penalties are expensive, and the cost of medical bills, repairs, and even a lawsuit are astronomical.

Michigan law defines driving without insurance as a misdemeanor crime, which means jail time is possible. Up to one year in jail is the punishment for anyone caught without insurance.

The additional punishments associated with driving without insurance include paying a fee of up to $1,000. It’s called a driver responsibility fee. The other punishment is a suspended license. The state has the right to suspend your license for as many as 30 days.

If you can prove you purchased insurance inside that 30-day timeframe, you can pay a $125 reinstatement fee and have your suspension lifted. It’s up to a judge to determine which combination of these punishments you might suffer.

Most first-time offenders won’t be placed in jail, but it’s much more common if you’re caught a second time.

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Punishments for Being Unable to Prove Insurance

Michigan law is harsh. If you are pulled over or involved in a car accident and cannot prove you have insurance at the scene, you will face up to one year in jail, 30 days with a suspended license, and you’ll pay up to $400 in driver responsibility fees.

Even if you can go home and grab your insurance card to prove you do have an active policy, this is the punishment you face. It’s not wise to go anywhere without your insurance card in Michigan.

If you face this kind of punishment for driving without your insurance card handy, you can reinstate your license as soon as you have your insurance card in hand. You’ll take it to the local DMV, but you’ll pay a fee.

It’s not as much as you pay when you don’t have insurance. It’s only $25 to reinstate your license this time.

If you ignore the reinstatement process and drive on a suspended license, the penalties are even more serious.

How is having insurance more affordable than not having insurance?

If you are one the Michigan drivers who believe it’s more affordable to skip paying for car insurance, you are mistaken. In addition to the fees and penalties you face if you’re caught driving without insurance in this state, you also face additional costs if you’re involved in an accident.

Your insurance policy covers you if you are involved in an accident by paying for the following:

  • car repairs
  • medical bills
  • lawsuits if the other driver decides to file a personal injury lawsuit

Medical bills can add up quickly even if you have health insurance. If your injuries cause you to miss work, you’re going to lose money. If you caused the accident and someone else is injured, you could be sued for pain and suffering, medical bills, and car repairs.

It could cost you tens of thousands of dollars or more.

If you have a loan on your vehicle or you lease it, you’re required to have insurance. The lender determines how much coverage they consider appropriate, and they’re going to apply for an insurance policy for you if you fail to do it yourself.

If they do this, they’re not concerned with the affordability of the policy in your budget. They just want you to have insurance on the car they own until you make your final payment.

Why is car insurance so important?

Insurance is important because it’s financial protection when something goes wrong. You can find more affordable insurance if you take time to look around, to compare policies, and to find discounts.

Spending a few hours researching insurance policies until you find one that meets your financial needs is a lot more appealing than spending years paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt caused by driving without insurance.

If you own your vehicle outright, you only need the minimum coverage required by the state. Michigan law only requires you carry $20,000 in PIP per person, $40,000 per accident, and $10,000 for damages.

For a safe driver, only paying the minimum required amount for car insurance allows you to make your policy more affordable, and it allows you to avoid the penalties associated with being an uninsured motorist.

Driving without insurance, on the other hand, can result in even the most cautious driver facing thousands of dollars in fees and points on their driving record from even a minor fender-bender.

Don’t drive without insurance! Get started finding the best rate for the coverage you need by using our free comparison tool below.

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