Kentucky requires drivers to have minimum liability car insurance. Owning a car and not having insurance is a misdemeanor, with penalties ranging from a $500 to $2,500 fine, imprisonment from 90 to 180 days, or both. Your registration will also be suspended for a year, and your license may be automatically revoked.
The state has two ways to verify which registered drivers do not maintain proof of insurance. First, police officers will ask for your insurance card if you are pulled over for a traffic stop or involved in an accident. Additionally, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) gets monthly updates from insurers through its Kentucky Insurance System. If an insurance policy does not match up with your vehicle, you will receive a notice and may be subject to penalties.
Second and subsequent offenses
|$500 - $1,000||$1,000 - $2,500|
|90 days, or a combination of fine and jail time*||180 days, or a combination of fine and jail time*|
|Registration suspension for one year, or until proof of insurance is submitted||Registration suspension for one year plus driver's license revocation|
|Pay court fines, pay to reinstate registration (cost varies), provide proof of new insurance policy||$40 fee to reinstate license, pay court fines, pay to reinstate registration (cost varies), provide proof of new insurance policy, retake driving exams if license suspension is over one year|
*Any time you are caught driving or owning a registered car without valid insurance, the penalty would be either a fine or sentence of imprisonment, sometimes both, depending on the court.
Penalties for driving uninsured in Kentucky
When driving in Kentucky, it is important to have your insurance card on hand at all times. But even if you’re not on the road, your policy always needs to be up-to-date. That’s because the Kentucky Insurance System regularly verifies that all registered motor vehicles in the state maintain liability coverage with the minimum amounts of 25/50/25.
To aid in monitoring, insurance agencies must submit monthly records of all personal car insurance policies to the KYTC. If your car is identified as uninsured, it would mean you have violated the law, and the penalties can be quite severe.
If you are asked to show proof of insurance and cannot, your registration will automatically be suspended for a year unless you are able to present satisfactory proof of insurance to the court. Proof may be in the form of a valid insurance policy or a written notice from your insurance agent stating you do have a policy that is more than 45 days old. If you fail to produce one or the other, you will be subjected to a fine of $500 to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence up to 90 days.
If your vehicle is found to be uninsured by the Kentucky Insurance System’s regular monitoring, the KYTC’s Department of Motor Vehicle Registration will send you an uninsured notice. You’ll have to respond to this by presenting valid proof of liability coverage. You may also choose to have your insurance agent vouch for you via written notice.
If you are unable to do either in 30 days, the same fines and penalties of driving uninsured will apply. At the court’s discretion, you may be given a conditional discharge, suspension or penalty reduction once you’ve produced proof of insurance as required.
Second and subsequent offenses
If you are caught driving without insurance within five years of your last conviction, you will be subject to far harsher penalties.
This time around, failing to present valid proof of insurance to the court will result in a $1,000 to $2,500 fine. On top of this, you could also be imprisoned for up to 180 days. And, your registration will be suspended for a year.
But what makes the penalties for your second — and subsequent — offense worse is they also revoke your license. Your license and driving privileges will be canceled for one year if you have a previous conviction and two years if the violation occurred twice or more before.
Alternatively, if you are not on the road but the Kentucky Insurance System discovers that you have been repeatedly allowing your policy to lapse within a five-year period of your last conviction, you will receive an uninsured notice from the KYTC with the same 30-day lead time to submit proper proof of insurance or a written notice from your agent. The same fines and penalties will apply if you fail to produce either. By the court’s discretion, you may be given a conditional discharge, suspension or penalty reduction once you’ve produced proof of insurance and a receipt showing that you have purchased a premium for a minimum policy period of six months.
Reinstating your license in Kentucky
Unlike other states, Kentucky does not require an SR-22 filing for driver’s license reinstatement. To regain your driving privileges in Kentucky, you must:
- Pay all fines set by the court
- Appear in court and present an insurance policy that is paid for and valid for at least six months
- Pay registration reinstatement fees
- Allow your license suspension period to end (if applicable)
- Pay the $40 license reinstatement fee (if revoked)
- Retake the necessary driving exams if your license has been suspended for more than one year
Re-applying for auto insurance in Kentucky
Driving without insurance or simply being singled out as a negligent policyholder will be a disadvantage when you decide to get properly insured. It can be difficult to purchase auto insurance in Kentucky in the voluntary market if you’re deemed a high-risk motorist due to your violation of the law. If no insurance carrier wants to cover you, you can use the Kentucky Automobile Insurance Plan (KAIP) as a last resort.