Severe penalties can occur if you’re caught driving without insurance in Massachusetts. The state considers driving without insurance a civil motor vehicle infraction (CMVI). Depending on the circumstances, you could face a $5,000 fine, up to one year in jail and the loss of your driving privileges for an entire year. On top of this, an additional fee of at least $500 is required to be paid to the assigned risk plan (MAIP).
The state of Massachusetts requires drivers to carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance: a minimum of $20,000 for bodily injury per person, $40,000 bodily injury per accident, $8,000 of personal injury protection, $5,000 of property damage and 20/40 of uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury.
Penalties for driving without insurance
If you are found guilty of driving without insurance, you’ll face penalties that can range from $500-$5,000, depending on the offense. Your driver’s license could remain suspended for a year and you could be required to serve a 12-month jail sentence aside from the financial consequences. Here is a table that illustrates the penalties under the 1st and subsequent offenses, followed by an explanation in more detail (these penalties are in addition to any fines or penalties imposed by a court of law):
Second and Subsequent Offenses
|$500 fine; additional $500 payment or one full year premium of compulsory insurance (whichever is larger).||$500 - $5,000 fine; additional $500 payment or one full year premium of compulsory insurance (whichever is larger).|
|$45 late fee and $25 filing fee if you choose to request a hearing.||$45 late fee and $25 filing fee if you choose to request a hearing.|
|Driver's license and registration suspended for 60 days; $500 fee to reinstate.||Driver's license and registration suspended for one year; $500 fee to reinstate.|
|Up to one year in jail.||Up to one year in jail.|
Penalties for 1st offense
If you're ever pulled over or are at the scene of an accident, law enforcement will request proof of active insurance. If you fail to show them acceptable proof and are found to have been driving without the mandated coverage, you face several penalties. For the 1st offense, you’re hit with a $500 fine payable to the local government and it’s possible you could receive jail time of up to 12 months. Your driver’s license is suspended for 60 days and you’ll be subject to a driver’s license reinstatement fee of $500 to get it back.
Finally, you’ll pay an additional fee toward the assigned risk plan — Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan (MAIP) — which is the state’s residual auto insurance pool. The required fee is the larger of $500 or one year’s insurance premium for compulsory coverage as rated by the MAIP.
Note that when calculating the corresponding MAIP premiums for you in this case, the plan will be using the highest risk factors, regardless of your actual profile.
Penalties for 2nd and subsequent offenses
If the 2nd offense occurs within six years of a prior offense, the fine for driving without insurance can jump ten times from $500 to as high as $5,000. Your license and registration are suspended for one year and you’ll have to pay $500 to get your driver’s license back. You still face a one-year jail sentence.
Similar to the first offense, you’ll have to pay a fee that is the larger of $500 or one year’s insurance premium for a minimum Massachusetts insurance policy to the MA Auto Insurance Plan. As a basis of comparison, the $5k high end of the fine could have paid for more than five years of coverage at the lowest-cost car insurer in MA for our single male drivers with safe driving histories.
Disputing your fine
You may choose to dispute a civil motor vehicle infraction (CMVI) citation — such as driving without insurance or proof of insurance — from a police officer, but you must request a hearing within 20 days. Requesting a hearing involves a $25 filing fee payable to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
If you do not respond within the 20 days, you will be considered guilty of the citation and charged a late fee of $45 on top of any fines related to the conviction. Failing to pay both the citation and the late fee can result in having your driver’s license suspended. In addition, the RMV records all moving violations on your record, which could affect your car insurance rates in the future.