Auto Insurance Basics

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Iowa

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The Financial and Safety Responsibility Act of Iowa requires every registered motorist to be financially responsible before driving on the state’s roads. Failure to provide proof of this financial responsibility can result in fines and driving privilege suspensions.

Type of PenaltyDriving without InsuranceDriving Without Insurance in an Accident
Fine $250 or community service in lieu of the fine $250 mandatory fine
Driving Privilege Removal of license plates and registration receipt; or vehicle impoundment  Vehicle impoundment; License and Registration suspension for 12 months if damages to other party exceeds $1,500; Registration suspension on all vehicles registered under owner's name
Reinstatement Requirements Payment of fine or completion of community service; Proof of Insurance or SR-22, $15 administrative fee; Vehicle towing and storage fees Proof of insurance or SR-22, Vehicle towing and storage fees; $15 administrative fee; $200 civil penalty; Passing grade at a knowledge test, driving exam and vision screening test; $20 license renewal fee

The most common and recommended way to demonstrate financial responsibility on the road is with an active Iowa auto insurance policy. The state of Iowa mandates liability coverage of at least 20/40/15 in limits. Primarily, this law is in effect for the purpose of protecting you and your fellow motorists from monetary damage brought about by a traffic accident. However, you should still carry physical or electronic proof of insurance everywhere you go in the event a police officer asks for it. Not having proof of insurance can cost you from a $250 fine to the suspension of your driving privileges up to 12 months.

Penalties for Driving Uninsured in Iowa

Law enforcers in Iowa can ask for your proof of liability coverage at routine roadblocks or when you’re pulled over for a minor statutory infraction. When served a citation for driving without insurance, the smartest move is to pay the fine and to provide proof of financial responsibility in the form of an active policy or an SR-22 coverage guarantee from your insurer. If you accomplish one of these within 30 days, your citation will be dismissed.

If you do not make the deadline, however, your license plates and registration receipt will be confiscated, and your car impounded or immobilized. In the case of immobilization, you will only be allowed to drive your car for the next 48 hours. This is to give you time to get your vehicle completely off the road. 

In lieu of paying the ticket fine, the court can order you to perform unpaid community service in the equivalent of the fine’s monetary value. In such a scenario, you can only begin your license’s reinstatement process after you’ve completed the court-ordered hours of community service. 

Once you’re ready to reclaim your driving privileges, you must pay the $250 fine and present your newly-purchased insurance policy or the SR-22 your insurance agent has filed for you to Iowa’s Department of Transportation (DOT). After paying the additional $15 administrative fee, the county treasurer will issue new license plates and a new registration receipt for you so that you may drive your car again. If your car has been impounded, you will have to pay the towing and storage fees as well.

Failure to Show Proof of Insurance after an Accident

The consequences of driving without the required insurance become more aggravating when your car is involved in a road mishap. In an accident where damages or injuries to the other party exceed $1,500, your license and registration will be automatically suspended if you cannot show proof of financial responsibility to the law enforcer at the scene. Suspension can last up to 12 months. If you are found at fault for the collision, the registration suspension may even extend to every other vehicle you own and registered under your name. Your car involved in the crash may also be impounded.

Reinstating your driving privileges is a bigger challenge. Within 30 days of the accident report and your citation, you will have to show proof of active auto insurance to a clerk of the court, or an SR-22 filed to the DOT by your insurance agent. You will have to maintain your SR-22 for 2 years with not a single day of lapsed payment on your policy’s premium. Otherwise, your license will be suspended again. 

Upon securing your proof of insurance, paying the $250 violation fine, the $15 administrative fee, the $200 civil penalty, and the $20 license renewal fee, you will have to undergo a knowledge test, a driving exam, and a vision screening test. Only when you pass all these can you have your license and registration restored.

If your car was impounded as part of your sentence, you can have it reclaimed after you’ve paid the costs for its towing and storage. It is important to note that if your car is not recovered within thirty days after impoundment, it may be treated as an abandoned vehicle by the State.

Another crucial point to consider when you're caught driving uninsured after an accident is Iowa’s ‘Modified Comparative Negligence Law’. This law states that both parties involved in an accident can be found mutually at fault. The threshold in Iowa is 50%. If, after investigation, you are found guilty of the crash by 51% or more, you will not be able to make a claim for damages and injuries from the other party’s auto insurance company. Medical and repair costs you may incur, you will have to pay for out of your own pocket.

Re-applying for Auto insurance in Iowa

In Iowa, insurance carriers can deny you coverage for having a less-than-stellar driving record. If you do find an insurance carrier in the market, it can impose a surcharge on you for accidents you were involved in for the past five years. In such instances, you may contact the Iowa Assigned Automobile Insurance Plans (IAAIP), Iowa’s assigned high-risk auto insurance resource, for assistance.

Sources:
Iowa Legislatures: Driving without liability coverage
Iowa Department of Public Safety: proof of insurance coverage

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