Penalties For Driving Without Insurance In California


WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich

UPDATED: DECEMBER 12, 2022 | 3 MIN READ

All drivers in California need to carry either proof of insurance or an accepted car insurance alternative. The state’s minimum liability insurance requirements include the following:

  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single other driver’s injury
  • $30,000 in liability coverage per accident
  • $5,000 in liability coverage for property damage

California drivers caught without liability insurance can pay various penalties, ranging from paying fines of $1,000 to penalty assessment fees. In addition to expensive fines and a blemish on their driving record, the cost of their auto insurance could also increase. Learn more about the state of California’s minimum liability insurance requirements and the state’s penalties for driving without insurance.

Penalties for driving without insurance in California

Penalties for driving without insurance in California include impounding your car and fines. While some states may suspend your driver’s license and vehicle registration, California’s penalties include fines and the possibility that your insurance company will file an SR-22 certificate. You may also have your car impounded. Avoid these headaches by meeting the state’s proof of financial responsibility requirements.

In California, uninsured driver penalties vary by offense:

Type of OffenseLicense and/or Registration Suspended?Jail TimeSR-22 RequirementsMaximum Fines
No Proof of Insurance (Can Prove Coverage)NoNoNo$360-720
1st Offense With No CoverageNoNoYes, if you cause a car accident$100-200 plus penalty assessments
Repeat Offense (No Coverage)NoNoYes, if you cause a car accident$200-500 plus penalty assessments

License and/or registration suspensions for type of offense

Car insurance laws vary by state. Vehicle registration and license suspension aren’t penalties for driving while uninsured in California.

Jail time for each for type of offense

Whether it’s a first or repeat offense, driving while uninsured in California is not punishable by jail time.

SR-22 requirements

Whether it’s your first-time offense or not, drivers caught without liability insurance in California must file an SR-22 form. An SR-22 form is a certificate from the state’s department of motor vehicles that proves you have the minimum required coverage.

Fines and fees for each type of offense

If you’re caught driving in California without proof of insurance but can prove you’re covered, you will have to pay a fine between $360-720. Drivers committing their first offense with no coverage pay $100-200, plus penalty assessment fees. Subsequent offenses involve a $200-500 maximum fine and penalty assessment fees.

Appealing fines

Not having car insurance in California and being unable to show proof are two different violations. You’re guilty of an administrative violation if you have insurance coverage but can’t prove it during a car accident or traffic violation. The court won’t dismiss the ticket with proof, but you may be able to save money by appealing for a reduced fine.

California auto insurance minimum requirements for insurance

California’s minimum amounts of required liability insurance include:

  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single other driver’s injury
  • $30,000 in liability coverage per accident
  • $5,000 in liability coverage for property damage

Scenarios when you can still get insurance in California

Uninsured

Insurance companies consider driving without insurance or lapses in coverage to be on par with a bad driving record. In California, drivers without insurance for 60 days pay about 6% more in insurance premiums than insured drivers.

High-Risk

If you’re considered a high-risk driver and have been denied coverage in the past, look into California’s assigned risk program. Remember that you’ll still pay more if you require the program or still qualify for high-risk insurance from traditional insurance companies.

Driving someone else’s car

No California law requires insurance to drive someone else’s car, but it’s still a good idea to have some coverage. Non-owner car insurance can protect you in a car accident, but if you regularly borrow a car from someone in your home, you should be listed on their auto insurance policy.

FAQs

What insurance coverage is required in California?

California drivers must carry a minimum liability policy of $15,000 coverage for bodily injury per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 in property damage. Drivers also have the option to purchase a surety bond for $35,000 or make a cash deposit to the DMV.

Is car insurance required in California?

Car insurance isn’t required in California, but all drivers need a minimum liability policy. Other proof of insurance options include a surety bond, cash deposit, or a certificate of self-insurance from the California DMV.

How much is car insurance in California per month?

Your car insurance rate will depend on your driving record, location, and other factors. For example, drivers in Los Angeles may pay more for car insurance than drivers in smaller cities.

How to get California insurance after you’ve been caught driving without it

To avoid costly penalties for driving while uninsured in California, shop around for minimum liability coverage or standard car insurance. As a best practice, compare quotes from at least three car insurance companies to find a competitive price that suits your needs and budget.