Auto Insurance Basics

Penalties for Driving without Insurance in Florida

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Under the No-Fault Law, Florida vehicle owners are required to carry the minimum amounts of $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL) and $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP). In case you are ever involved in an accident that causes any degree of bodily harm to others, your required coverage will also include Bodily Injury (BI) coverage of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident (see penalties in an accident section). You must have coverage in place before you obtain your registration and license plates, and you must continue to carry it throughout the registration period. If you intend to drop your insurance, for any reason, you are required to surrender your plates before the insurance expires. Otherwise, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) can suspend your driver's license, your registration and your vehicle tags for up to three years or until you take out a policy, whichever is shorter. You can also be fined anywhere from $150 to $500 for driving uninsured. Here is a table summarizing the fines and penalties for first and subsequent offenses:

FinesDriving Privilege
First Offense $150 reinstatement fee. License and registration suspension up to 3 years, unless proof of insurance is provided in time.
Second Offense $250 reinstatement fee if lapse occurs within three years of the first offense. License and registration suspension up to 3 years, unless proof of insurance is provided in time.
Subsequent Offenses $500 reinstatement fee if lapse occurs within three years of the first offense. License and registration suspension up to 3 years, unless proof of insurance is provided in time.

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Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Whenever your Florida auto insurance policy does experience a lapse, your insurance carrier is required by law to immediately notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The Florida DHSMV sends a notice of suspension by mail. You’re then given the opportunity to provide proof of new coverage before the date of suspension, which must prove that you had new insurance in place before the old policy expired. Even if the period of the lapse was just one day, if you fail to provide the new valid proof of insurance that meets the Florida requirements when requested by law enforcements, such as at traffic stops or at the scene of an accident, your license, plates, and registration will be suspended for up to three years for your first offense. 

Penalties for First Offense

Your license will stay suspended until you have provided valid proof of auto insurance, after which you may apply to reinstate your driving privilege. In order to reinstate your license, plates and registration, you’ll have to provide the state with proof of a new policy and pay a fee of $150. There is no reinstatement fee or penalties if you provide insurance information in effect before the suspension date.

Penalties for Second and Subsequent Offenses

The fees to reinstate your license and vehicle registration after the second and subsequent offenses are more expensive in the state of Florida. If you let your insurance lapse for a second time within three years of the first lapse, the reinstatement fee increases to $250 for the second offense. For a third and following offenses within three years of the first one, the reinstatement fee goes up to $500.  

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in An Accident

Accidents in the state of Florida need to be reported immediately to law enforcement if they involve an injury or death, a hit-and-run, intoxicated driver, or property damage that appears to be over $500. What if you don’t have car insurance in Florida and get into an accident? The potential consequences can be significant. If you are found to be at fault, and the other driver suffers injury to their person or property, you can be held personally liable for the entire cost. On top of that, you could lose your driving privileges until the entire cost of the damages has been paid. 

For drivers involved in an at-fault accident that hurt or killed someone while driving uninsured, an SR22 Certificate is required, which essentially requires you to carry extra coverage at higher limits than what the Florida No-Fault Law asks in a regular minimum policy. Under the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, you are also required to purchase bodily injury liability coverage on top of the coverage that is already required. This is a costly penalty in Florida, where the higher limits are nearly ten times the statutory minimum bodily injury limits. Plus, you may find it difficult to find an insurer who’s willing to take on the risk of a driver who has already been involved in a serious accident.

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