You can incur severe penalties 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 as much as 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, you’ll be required to pay an additional fee of at least $500 to the assigned risk plan (Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan, or MAIP).
Penalties for driving without insurance
The state of Massachusetts requires drivers to carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance: $20,000 for bodily injury per person, $40,000 for bodily injury per accident, $8,000 of personal injury protection, $5,000 of property damage and 20/40 of uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury.
Law enforcement can ask for proof of insurance coverage during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) also maintains an electronic database and will receive a notification from your insurance company if your policy lapses or is canceled.
If you are found guilty of driving without insurance, you’ll face total penalties that range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. Your driver’s license could remain suspended for a year, and you could be required to serve a 12-month jail sentence on top of the financial consequences. Here are the penalties under the first and subsequent offenses. 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 if you don't respond to a citation within 20 days, and $25 filing fee if you choose to request a hearing||$45 late fee if you don't respond to a citation within 20 days, 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 first offense
If you're ever pulled over or involved in an accident, law enforcement will request proof of active insurance. If you fail to show them acceptable proof or are found to have been driving without the mandated coverage, you’ll face several penalties. For the first offense, you’ll be 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 will be 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 — 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 your corresponding MAIP premiums in this case, the plan will be using the highest risk factors, regardless of your actual profile.
Penalties for second and subsequent offenses
If the second offense occurs within six years of a prior offense, the fine for driving without insurance can be as high as $5,000. Your license and registration will be suspended for one year, and you’ll have to pay $500 to get your driver’s license back. You’ll also face a possible 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, $5,000, the high end of the fine, could pay for more than five years of coverage at the lowest-cost car insurer in the state for a single male driver with a safe driving history.
Disputing your fine
You may choose to dispute a CMVI citation — such as driving without insurance or proof of insurance — 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.
If you do not respond within 20 days, you will be considered guilty of the citation and charged a late fee 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 tracks all moving violations on your record, which could affect your car insurance rates in the future.