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Delaware motorists aren't allowed to operate or register their vehicles if they do not have the proper liability insurance. The state requires liability insurance so that motorists are financially covered in the event of a road accident. Failing to comply with the Financial Responsibility Act of the State can result in fines to motorists, license suspensions, and financial sentences as steep as a $4,000 fine.
|Type of Penalty||Each Offense||Audited for Insurance Compliance|
|Fine||First offense: $1,500 to $2,000; Later offenses: $3,000 to $4,000||N/A|
|Driver's License Suspension||6 months||6 months, if confirmed uninsured|
|Registration Suspension||N/A||Suspended if audit request is not responded to within given time|
|Uninsured Motorist Penalty Fee||N/A||$100 if lapse is within 30 days / additional $5 for each day beyond 30|
|FR-19||Acceptable form of proof of insurance||Required form of proof of insurance|
Penalties for Driving Uninsured in Delaware
Under the Delaware Motor Vehicle Laws, you are required to maintain liability coverage with limits of at least 15/30/10. You should always be prepared with proof of this financial coverage whenever you are driving a car. You may be asked to present the proof when pulled over by traffic authorities on the road, or whenever you're audited for insurance performance by the State DMV. Proof may be in the form of an insurance ID card issued by your carrier, your official certificate of insurance, or an FR-19 statement from your carrier certifying that you do have a policy in effect covering your motor vehicle. If you don’t have any of these on hand when requested, you can face severe penalties.
When the police pull you over for a routine inspection or for a road infraction you may have committed, you will be asked for proof of insurance. If you fail to do so, and it's your first time getting caught, you will be charged between $1,500 and $2,000 in fines. Your driver’s license will be suspended for a period of 6 months.
Second and Subsequent Offenses
If you violate the insurance law again within 3 years of the previous conviction, your fine skyrockets to between $3,000 and $4,000. If in one of these instances, you were caught driving uninsured in the middle of an accident you may have caused, the financial consequences are much greater. Delaware is a fault state, which means you will have to pay for any damages you cause out of your own pocket.
Likewise, any subsequent offense after the first to the insurance law will have your Delaware driver’s license suspended for six months.
Delaware Auto Insurance Compliance Auditing
As an added verification tool, the Delaware DMV sends out insurance inspection notices to motorists with active registrations. The auditing is done by random selection. Once the department has reasons to doubt your insurance status, you will receive a notice for insurance verification. If you fail to respond to this request by the due date on the notice, your vehicle registration will be suspended.
If your policy is identified as inactive, whether a lapse or been cancelled, you will be verified uninsured, and an uninsured motorists penalty fee will be assessed based on how many days you go without insurance. The fine for insurance lapse is $100 for a lapse length between 1 and 30 days. Beyond the first 30 days, for every additional day until you replace your insurance, return your registration plates, or before your registration expire –- whichever circumstance happens first –- there is an additional $5 fine per day.
If it is proven that you have operated your car during your insurance lapse, you will be penalized as if you were driving without insurance.
When you are notified by the Delaware DMV to show proof of insurance during their auditing process, you are asked to supply the DMV with the FR-19 Delaware Insurance Certification. Delaware is one in a handful of states that do not require a convicted motorist to get an SR-22. What it requires is the FR-19. Unlike the SR-22, the FR-19 is a form issued by your insurer to simply certify that you do carry at least the State’s minimum liability auto insurance coverage on your registered vehicle at the time of conviction or verification. It can only be used once, and does not need to be maintained like you would an SR-22.
Reinstating your Driving Privileges
There are a number of requirements you will need to meet in order to reinstate your driving privileges. Producing the required proof of insurance as soon as you can will shorten your suspension period and accelerate your license restoration process (because you may only apply for reinstatement after that). The cost to reinstate your driver’s license or your registration is $50 each.
Re-applying for Auto Insurance in Delaware
If you have been shopping for a Delaware auto insurance policy, and having trouble finding a willing insurer on your own -- chances are, your uninsured record is to blame. Convictions such as insurance lapses brand you as a high-risk driver. The good news is that the state can help. You can purchase your policy through the Delaware Automobile Insurance Plan -- the state’s assigned risk plan that helps high risk drivers to get insurance coverage in the residual market.