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What is the punishment for driving without insurance?

Driving Without Insurance: What You Need To Know

Stopped by the police after driving without insurance

There are circumstances where you might think you’re insured to drive…but before getting behind the wheel, always double-check. A hasty decision could result in serious consequences.

These days, police using number plate recognition software to check the Motor Insurance Database (MID) in seconds, so it’s really easy to get caught.

While some may wilfully drive uninsured, for others, it’s simply a lack of awareness, such as:

  • Thinking because you have comprehensive insurance, you can ‘drive any car’. This is a common misconception but is often not the case. Even if included, it may only provide third party cover for those aged over 25.
  • Not checking if your car has auto-renewed – so missing a paper or email reminder – and if it hasn’t, failing to buy a replacement cover.
  • Taking a car for a test drive and believing it will be insured – if it’s a private seller, it won’t be.

So what happens if you’re pulled over and you’re caught driving without insurance? As experts in temporary car insurance, we know a thing or two about the subject. So, we’re going to answer all your questions on the subject.

Will I be punished for driving without insurance?

Yes. Sure, there may be a little wiggle room in a few cases (more on that later), but the reality is that driving without valid insurance is a ticking time bomb. If you don’t have at least third party insurance, you’re looking to get punished.

Learn more: the different types of car insurance.

So, is it always illegal to drive without insurance? What does the law say?

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, a car on the road or other public place must be insured. At the very least this should be third party insurance.

If you’re involved in an accident – even if it’s not your fault, checks will be made. Not only that, but police use number plate recognition cameras to pick up on uninsured drivers. You can’t simply buy cover retrospectively – it must be valid at the time you’re stopped.

What happens when you’re stopped by the police and accused of driving without insurance?

If this actually happens to you, you’ll be asked to present your insurance documents. They won’t necessarily expect you to have them on you that second, but if you do, that would help. You’ll be given seven days to provide up-to-date insurance documents to the police. These must show that you had a valid policy in place covering the period that they stopped you.

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What is the penalty for driving without insurance?

Police can impose a couple of different punishments. The absolute minimum penalty for driving without insurance is:

  • A fixed penalty of £300
  • six to eight penalty points on your licence

If the case goes to court, there could be an unlimited fine and a driving disqualification.

Points are recorded for four years and disqualification is likely with 12 or more penalty points within three years. If you’re disqualified for any period longer than 56 days, you’ll need to apply for a new licence.

Police can seize an uninsured car and either destroy the vehicle or have it sold at auction. Uninsured driving convictions also show up on DBS checks. In the most serious cases, where there is a fatality, there can be jail sentences of up to two years, or 10 years if ‘dangerous driving’ is proved.

Even if a car is not being driven, if it’s uninsured, you could be given a £100 fine and a £20 storage charge per day and £150 collection fee if it’s seized by police.

However, driving without insurance in itself is not an imprisonable offence and does not appear on a conviction on a criminal record.

But I’ve got comprehensive insurance, surely that means I can drive any car I want?

No! Or at least, not necessarily. Sure, a lot of comprehensive car insurance policies include ‘drive other cars’ (DOC) cover, but it may not be the catch-all you’re hoping for.

This cover is primarily aimed at allowing you to drive someone else’s car in an emergency, rather than regularly. Many insurers don’t even offer it anymore. It’s also subject to a number of terms and conditions.

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If you do have this as part of your cover, then at the very least you’ll need to get explicit permission from the vehicle owner and even then you may only have third party cover. Always check the details of your policy.

If you are caught trying to use DOC as your excuse you could even land the owner of the car in hot water too.

Are there any loopholes or legal reasons for driving without insurance?

There are a number of ‘mitigating circumstances’ that may be considered if you’re caught driving without insurance. These aren’t a given though, and you can’t rely on them.

Some instances where people may have had a punishment reduced have included, but are not limited to:

  • An insurance company cancelling a driver’s policy without notifying them – which would be an incredibly rare scenario
  • A driver having a genuine reason to believe they are driving with insurance

There may be other circumstances that are considered.

Simply forgetting to renew your policy is not an excuse.

What about cars that are not driven?

In most cases, if a car is out of action, it still needs to be insured. This is the case if it’s on the street as a stationary car can still be in an accident. You can declare a car Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN), meaning it does not need to be insured, but it cannot be left on a public road.

What circumstances don’t I need insurance to drive?

There are actually a number of circumstances where you don’t need to insure your car. However, these don’t generally let you drive the car.

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Your car doesn’t need insurance if:

  • You have a Statutory Off Road Notice (SORN)
  • The has been scrapped, stolen or exported with the required notice in place
  • The car is between registered keepers or dealers
  • The car has been registered as ‘in trade’ with the DVLA

The only time you can drive a car without insurance is on private land. All the other times require the car to be off-road in some way.

My insurance policy isn’t showing up on the Motor Insurance Database (MID), can I drive?

Whenever you insure your car, your policy will show up on the Motor Insurance Database.

You can learn more about what the MID is here, but in short, it’s a database that details all the cars and their insurance status.

Insurance can take a few days to show up on the MID though. So, if you’re driving immediately after buying a policy, there’s a chance you won’t show up when the police check your number plate. In this instance, you’re still insured, so don’t worry. Just make sure you have your policy details to hand to prove it and explain the situation.

I’m insured, but I’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, what then?

Even if you’re meeting all the motoring laws yourself, and driving with insurance, you may still find yourself in an awkward situation. If you’re unlucky enough to be in a car accident with someone that was driving without insurance, there are a few things you’ll need to do.

First of all, if the other driver says they are uninsured or refuses to supply insurance details, you should report them to the police.

If they simply didn’t have their details, you can look to see if it’s an uninsured vehicle by checking its details on the Motor Insurance Database website.

You can also see whether you can claim compensation from the Motor Insurer’s Bureau.

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A simple solution from GoShorty

There’s a straightforward and affordable way to make sure you don’t have to risk driving uninsured. Comprehensive short term car insurance or temporary van insurance from GoShorty can be purchased from one hour up to 28 days and provides ultimate reinsurance.

So, this would cover a test drive or can be taken out on a regular basis if you want to car share or borrow a vehicle from time to time. Our temporary car insurance is available for drivers aged 18 to 75 and is a fast and certain way to ensure you don’t need to drive uninsured.

Don’t risk driving without insurance – get cover today with a temporary insurance quote from GoShorty.

Driving Without Valid Insurance in Illinois

Driving Without Valid Insurance

Under Illinois law, driving without valid insurance is charged under 625 ILCS 5/3-707 (operation of uninsured motor vehicle), which requires that every driver on the road has the minimum vehicle liability insurance coverage required. If you are ticketed for driving without valid insurance, it is likely that you will be required to appear in court. The attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. have represented countless drivers charged with operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

Penalties for Driving without Valid Insurance

Driving without insurance is charged as a petty offense under most scenarios, but carries with it serious consequences. A first conviction of this offense will subject the driver to a three-month driver’s license suspension by the Illinois Secretary of State with a minimum mandatory $500 fine (maximum fine of $1,000) plus court costs, and a $100 reinstatement fee. An additional six-month license suspension will be imposed for any person convicted for driving without insurance while currently suspended for driving without insurance.

A third or subsequent conviction will subject the driver to minimum mandatory fines of $1,000 plus court costs. In addition, a $100 reinstatement fee must be paid to the Secretary of State in order to terminate a mandatory insurance suspension.

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Operation of a motor vehicle without insurance, which results in bodily harm to another person is charged as a Class A misdemeanor.

After-Acquired/Late Compliance Insurance

Acquiring insurance after receiving a ticket for driving without valid insurance is not a defense in court. However, showing proof of insurance on the vehicle that is valid at the time of your court date may allow you to obtain court supervision and avoid a driver’s license suspension as long as you have not previously been found guilty of this offense. This is true whether you previously received court supervision or a conviction for driving without insurance. Under these circumstances, a $100 fine plus court costs will be assessed.

SR-22 Requirement

A driver that receives court supervision or a third or subsequent conviction for driving without valid insurance will be required to obtain SR-22 insurance from their insurance company for a three-year period. SR-22 insurance is a special type of insurance that is reported to the Secretary of State on a monthly basis. As a result, failure to maintain the SR-22 insurance for the required period of time imposed by the Secretary of State will result in a suspended license.

Electronic Proof of Insurance

All drivers should carry their current insurance card in their vehicle at all times. Illinois law does also allow a driver to use their smart phone or tablet to show proof of auto insurance. However, a charge of driving without valid insurance will typically require an in-person court appearance. Therefore, if you have difficulty accessing your proof of insurance or the officer becomes impatient and writes you a ticket, you will need to appear in front of a judge to address the situation.

Contact our Traffic Attorneys

The traffic attorneys at The Davis Law Group, P.C. represent clients in traffic-related matters throughout Illinois and the Chicago area including Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County. Our attorneys offer phone consultations on a wide variety of traffic tickets. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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