It is illegal to register and operate an uninsured motor vehicle in the capital of the United States. These two types of violations have different implications. If your vehicle is uninsured, you can be charged with a maximum of $2,500 in fines. If you as a driver are caught driving uninsured, you can be fined $750 with the amount increasing by 50% for every subsequent offense. License suspensions for up to 60 days can also be part of the sentence for non-compliance to the D.C. Insurance Law.
|Type of Penalty||For Owning an Uninsured Vehicle||For Operating an Uninsured Vehicle|
|First Offense||Subsequent Offenses||First Offense||Subsequent Offenses|
|Civil Fine||$150, and additional $7 for each day after the first 30 days from when notice is received, up to $2,500.||$500||Fine increases by 50% for every subsequent offense.|
|License Suspension||30 days, either in place of or in combination with fine||60 days, either in place of or in combination with fine||30 days, either in place of or in combination with fine||60 days, either in place of or in combination with fine|
|Fine||$30 for failure or refusal to present insurance when requested by law enforcement|
|SR-22 Maintenance||3 years|
Penalties for Driving Uninsured in D.C.
The auto insurance requirement in the District of Columbia is liability insurance with split limits of 25/50/10. DC's Compulsory/No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act requires all its registered motorists to be financially responsible whether they’re on the road or not. You are expected to have a valid insurance policy of at least these amounts when you register your motor vehicle, and maintain your coverage as long as your registration is active. A single day of lapse can lead to fines and suspensions -- in the worst case scenario, even imprisonment.
D.C. has a separate set of penalties for owners of uninsured vehicles and those who operate uninsured vehicles.
For Operating Uninsured Vehicle on Public Roadways
Whether you own the vehicle or not, as the operator of the uninsured vehicle at the time of the citation, you will be fined. The fine is $500 if this is your first time to be caught driving without insurance. It will then increase by 50% for every subsequent violation, making the fine for the second offense $750, $1,125 for the third, and so on.
Failing to provide proper evidence of financial responsibility on the road may likely cost you your driver’s license. Depending on the court’s discretion, your penalty may be a license suspension for 30 days for your first offense, and 60 days for your second. This suspension may happen in place of, or on top of your fines.
When a D.C. traffic enforcer pulls you over for a traffic violation or investigates your car accident, he can ask to see your proof of financial responsibility. Acceptable proof can be your actual insurance policy, an official insurance identification card issued by your carrier, or a certification letter printed on the insurance company’s letterhead. If you don’t have any of these in your possession, you will be written a ticket for driving uninsured.
For Owning an Uninsured Vehicle
Every licensed insurer in D.C. periodically updates the insurance status of their policyholders with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV can test registrations on file at random to verify their insurance status. If your coverage appears to be invalid, you will be charged a $150 civil fine, and maybe even more. You will have 30 days to send proof of your financial responsibility to the DMV showing that you have valid insurance coverage. After 30 days, you will be charged $7 for every day that you remain unverified (and considered uninsured). Your total fine can accumulate up to $2,500 if you leave it unresolved.
The law also mandates that insurance carriers must notify the DMV of policy cancellations or non-renewals. If your policy was canceled or non-renewed, know that you must either secure a new policy and submit the new insurance information to your local DMV, or surrender your registration and vehicle tags to the DMV immediately, in order to avoid penalties for being uninsured.
Depending on the situation, the court may suspend your driving privileges too for violating the DC insurance law. For your first offense, your license can be shelved for 30 days, and for your second offense, 60 days. You may even be penalized with a combination of both suspension and fine.
The good news is that if you can submit current proof of insurance and prove that your car was never used during the period of your insurance lapse, a portion of your penalties may be waived.
Reinstating your Driving Privileges in D.C.
As soon as you’ve completed your sentence, you are now eligible to have your driving privileges restored. The first thing you will need to do is secure an auto insurance policy that follows the mandatory minimums of D.C. You will also need to have your insurer file an SR-22 with the DMV. The SR-22 is a certification guaranteeing that you will maintain your insurance for the next 3 years. The SR-22 is also an important tool for reinstating your license.
Once you’ve paid the $98 reinstatement fee and settled all outstanding debts on your driving record, including unpaid parking tickets, moving violation tickets, and insurance lapse fines, you may reclaim your license and drive in the District of Columbia again.
The District has additional penalties for specific insurance-related violations you may commit during the course of your verification or conviction.
Refusal to produce proof of insurance when requested by law enforcement officials can cost you $30.
If you knowingly provide false statements regarding your insurance status, operate a vehicle during your suspension for violating the District’s insurance law, or if you fail to return your registration and tags to the DMV when convicted, you will face jail time. The jail sentence is 30 days for your first offense, and 60 days for your second offense.
Re-applying for Auto Insurance in D.C.
Accumulating violations on your driving record can put you in a bad light with insurance carriers in the mainstream market. Once you’re deemed a high-risk driver, you can be denied coverage left and right. Here is where the District of Columbia Automobile Insurance Plan comes in. You can apply through the Plan and get the valid policy you need.