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In the state of Maryland, it is against the Financial Responsibility Law to drive without at least the required car insurance coverage. In fact, you can’t even register your car without your insurer signing and submitting a FR-19 form to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) for you. State law requires you to carry the following amounts of liability insurance: a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury per accident and $15,000 property damage. Not having valid car insurance can mean heavy fines and even jail time.
For driving without insurance, penalties vary depending on the circumstance. You could face up to $2,000 in fines plus administrative fine assessment fees that adjusts for every day you go without insurance. Your license could be suspended or revoked and you might even face up to two years in jail. In addition, not having adequate car insurance in Maryland is considered a misdemeanor, affecting both your record and potentially, your auto insurance rates. If you plan on canceling your insurance, turn in your tag first to avoid penalties.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
Driving in the state of Maryland and letting your car insurance lapse can be a very serious offense even if you were unaware of a lapse in your coverage. Maryland state law has a system of automatic fines penalizing lapses, and insurers are required to report to the MVA whenever a policy has been canceled or not renewed. On top of the fine for driving uninsured, there will also be an administrative fine that you get charged for every day you go without insurance. You could lose your license plates and vehicle registration privileges and a restoration fee up to $25 is required to get your car registration back. You are prohibited from registering any future vehicles or renewing a suspended registration until all insurance violations are cleared and every fine has been paid off.
Penalties for 1st Offense
If you fail to present valid proof of active insurance when requested by law enforcements, such as at traffic stops or at scene of accident, you will be fined for driving without insurance. For a 1st offense, which is considered a misdemeanor, you are slapped with a $1,000 fine and possibly up to one-year imprisonment for providing false evidence of car insurance. In addition, you are hit with administrative penalties for an insurance lapse (see below), as well as 5 points on your license.
Penalties for 2nd and Subsequent Offense
For a 2nd offense, the jail time increases to two years and the fine can surpass $2,000. At the least, you could be charged with another 5 points on your license, which will definitely lead to the MVA issuing you a Notice of Suspension. The MVA could require you to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program. The penalty for both the first and subsequent offenses can also raise your insurance rates in the future.
Administrative Penalties for an Insurance Lapse
Even if you are not immediately caught driving or charged with a crime, allowing the insurance to lapse on your car can also lead to additional administrative fines assessed through the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), which are entirely independent of the criminal charges discussed above. The fine assessment can stack up to a maximum of $2,500 dollars for each violation in a 12-month period. Your administrative fine assessment will account for the entire duration of your insurance-lapse period since the day your insurer reported the cancelation of your policy to the MVA. Pleading ignorance will not help; the fines may apply even if you did not know that the car was uninsured. Here is how the administrative fine assessment is calculated based on the number of days your insurance has lapsed for:
- $150 for lapsing less than 30 days
- $7 for each additional day the car is uninsured after the first 30 days
Here is a table that summarizes the penalties under a 1st and subsequent offenses:
|No definite driving privilege suspension|
|2nd & Subsequent Offense||License and/or vehicle registration suspension|