UPDATED: MARCH 31, 2023 | 3 MIN READ
Most U.S. residents are no strangers to being required to carry a minimum amount of car insurance while driving. The same stands for Ohio residents, who must buy certain insurance limits to remain active and legal when behind the wheel. And motorists who decide not to insure their vehicles can bet they’ll face stiff consequences if involved in an accident or pulled over by law enforcement. Before you decide to hop into the driver’s seat and potentially get caught in an illegal act, consider what Ohio state penalties would look like if you fail to comply with state law.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Ohio
Insurance laws in Ohio are taken incredibly seriously. If you’re caught driving without auto insurance, the state could charge you fines, suspend your vehicle registration and driver’s license, and may even impound your vehicle. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) can find out you don’t have car insurance in several different ways:
- Ohio’s electronic insurance database indicates that you don’t have active insurance.
- You can’t provide proof of insurance in traffic court when you appear for an accident or traffic ticket.
- You’re unable to provide proof of coverage when dealing with law enforcement.
License and/or registration suspensions for the type of offense
If you’re pulled over or involved in a car accident, you’ll need to provide proof of insurance to law enforcement. As long as you have active coverage, you’re fine, even if you don’t have your ID card. But don’t have your ID card on you, you’ll need to provide proof to the courts. If you can prove that you’re insured at the time of the offense, you won’t need to worry about having your registration or license suspended. However, suppose it’s your first offense, and you don’t have insurance coverage. In that case, you’ll face a driver’s license suspension and a vehicle registration suspension for two years. And if you’re a repeat offender, you’ll also face driving privilege suspensions.
Jail time for each type of offense
While driving without automobile insurance in Ohio is illegal, it likely won’t get you sentenced to time behind bars. Drivers will face many penalties if they commit this offense once or twice but won’t be sentenced to serve time in a facility. Instead, they’ll face a myriad of fines and suspensions.
You’ll be required to obtain SR-22 insurance in Ohio if you fail to carry active insurance coverage while operating a motor vehicle. In most cases, you’ll be required to keep this certificate of financial responsibility for three years. This stands for not only the first offense, but the second offense and third offense as well. Keep in mind obtaining SR-22 coverage can be pretty costly and will significantly increase your insurance premiums.
Fines and fees for each type of offense
Fine and fees are a stark reality when you drive without proof of insurance. However, if you can prove to the traffic courts that you did have car insurance at the time of the accident or driving infraction, your fines will be dismissed once you provide proof. If you didn’t have any insurance at the time, however, you’ll be assessed a penalty of $100 for your first offense, and upon subsequent offenses, you’ll be charged fines of up to $600. In addition to these fines, you may be responsible for any expenses related to getting your car out of impound if it was impounded and license and registration reinstatement fees.
Ohio auto insurance minimum requirements for insurance
All drivers are required to carry minimum limits of car insurance in Ohio. These coverages include the following limits:
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person.
- $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident.
- $25,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident.
Insurance carriers in Ohio are required to offer uninsured motorists coverage to drivers. However, it can be declined if done so in writing. Just because these limits are the state-mandated limits needed to drive doesn’t mean they’re sufficient limits for all drivers. You’ll want to ensure you and your assets are fully covered should you be involved in a severe accident. And if your limits don’t completely cover the expenses of an accident, you’ll be responsible for the remaining out-of-pocket.
Avoiding license suspension after an accident
The best way to avoid getting your license suspended after a car accident is to ensure you pay all the necessary fines you receive. Failure to pay fines, or obtain court-ordered direction, such as obtaining SR-22 coverage, can easily result in a license suspension. And overall, the best way to ensure you don’t face any potential issues is to carry active insurance at all times. Ensure you always keep your insurance ID and vehicle registration in your car.
Scenarios when you can still get insurance in Ohio
You may find yourself in a scenario where it may be more difficult to obtain traditional car insurance for various reasons. Some of the most popular reasons some insurance companies may turn you away are being uninsured, being a high-risk driver, or needing non-owner coverage for one reason or another. Thankfully, plenty of carriers will still insure these types of drivers.
A lack of driving history, unless a newly licensed driver, lapses in insurance coverage, or a history of driving without car insurance, can raise red flags with insurance companies. Why? Insurance companies view these situations as a comparison to drivers with negative driving records and more of a liability to the company. On average, uninsured drivers tend to pay around 9% more than the average driver for car insurance. Traditional carriers may not want to provide coverage to drivers in this category, but many companies will. The most popular insurance companies to offer this coverage include Nationwide, State Farm, USAA, and GEICO.
High-risk drivers are often denied coverage through standard insurance carriers. But in Ohio, there’s a program known as Ohio’s assigned risk program. This helps drivers obtain car insurance, even as high-risk motorists. Bear in mind that high-risk drivers will pay far more in insurance premiums than the standard Ohio driver. A driver with two speeding tickets on their driving record will spend nearly 30% more than the typical driver in premiums. And depending on what infractions you have on your driving history, you may even pay more than that.
Driving someone else’s car
Even if you don’t have car insurance because of lack of vehicle ownership, you can still drive other’s vehicles if you’re licensed. Though, if you live in a home with someone whose vehicle you borrow, you should be listed on their insurance policy as a driver. But if you rent vehicles or borrow a friend’s car, non-owner car insurance coverage is an excellent route to ensure you’re adequately protected. This is a great option for motorists who want continuous auto insurance between cars if they are to sell a car and buy a new one. This way, you won’t need to worry about any lapses in coverage. The General, Nationwide, and State Farm are popular insurance choices for drivers seeking non-owner coverage.
What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Ohio?
All drivers in Ohio are expected to carry auto insurance. Failure to do so could result in the suspension of your driver’s license and registration, the requirement for SR-22 insurance, and steep fines.
Can you go to jail in Ohio for driving without insurance?
You won’t need to worry about going to jail for driving without insurance in Ohio. However, you still will likely face suspensions of your registration and driver’s license. Your insurance premiums will likely increase significantly as well.
Can you drive without car insurance in Ohio?
It’s considered illegal to drive without automobile insurance in Ohio. You must carry the minimum required insurance limits to avoid breaking Ohio law.
What happens if you have an accident without insurance in Ohio?
Ohio is a tort state (also known as an at-fault state), which means that if you’re responsible for an accident, you must compensate the other driver for injuries or damage. If you don’t have insurance, you’d be responsible for these expenses out-of-pocket.
How to get Ohio insurance after you’ve been caught driving without it
Avoid license and registration suspensions and expensive fees by getting liability insurance coverage that meets the state of Ohio’s minimum required limits. You’ll want to gather quotes from multiple carriers to find the best rates. We have a team of insurance agents who can generate quotes in moments, ensuring you won’t break the bank with unaffordable premiums.