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Penalties for Driving without Insurance in North Carolina

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If you're caught in North Carolina driving your car uninsured, you'll face fines and potentially jail time. The North Carolina Motor Vehicle Safety and Financial Responsibility Act says any owner of a registered and operated motor vehicle must carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance required by this state law: a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury per accident and $25,000 property damage. Section 20-313 of the North Carolina Statutes views operating a car without insurance as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties depend on the number of lapses in coverage within the last three years and can range from $50-$150 in restoration fees, loss of registration and even imprisonment. Make sure you are always covered. Because of the existence of North Carolina Reinsurance Facility, no motorists should be rejected coverage in the Old North State.

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Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

State law in North Carolina requires insurance companies to notify the DMV when coverage has been canceled. Law enforcement officers also have the power to ask you for proof of insurance at traffic stops or scene of an accident. If you in fact have a lapse in coverage, you must pay a civil penalty fee that ranges from $50 to $150 depending how many prior lapses you have on record. More importantly, driving without insurance is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor in NC, which means imprisonment with a chance of 1-45 days probation as alternative.

You will have 10 days to fill out and return the FS 5-7 Notice to either prove your insurance coverage or to recertify that you have obtained new coverage after the lapse. Failure to respond within the time frame means you will lose your license plates for 30 days, and even registration suspension.

Here is a table that illustrates the penalties under a 1st and subsequent offenses, followed by explanation in more details (these penalties are in addition to any fines or penalties that the court of law may impose upon you):

FinesDriving PrivilegeOther
First Offense Civil Penalty : $50 / License Resinstatement fee: $50 Registration suspended for 30 days 1-45-day Probation
Second Offense Civil Penalty : $100 / License Resinstatement fee: $50 Registration suspended for 30 days Jail time or 1-45-day Probation
Third & Subsequent Offenses Civil Penalty : $150 / License Resinstatement fee: $50 Registration suspended for 30 days Jail time or 1-45-day Probation

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 the scene of the accident, for the 1st offense, you are hit with a $50 civil penalty fine and the possibility of being put on probation for 1-45 days. Your registration and license plates are suspended for 30 days, until you submit proof of financial responsibility with a F1 form and pay an additional $50 for reinstatement. If you actually have active insurance coverage when the Notice was sent to you, you’ll have 10 days to respond in order to avoid suspension and probation.

Penalties for 2nd Offense

For the 2nd offense that occurs within three years of your previous violation, the civil penalty increases to $100. Again, you will lose your registration and license plates for 30 days until you obtain financial responsibility and pay the reinstatement fee of $50 (this fee only applies if your license has been suspended). You now face either jail time or, if the judge allows, probation for 1-45 days. Avoid jail time and suspension by submitting your proof of insurance within 10 days via the FS 5-7 Notice, along with the civil penalty.

Penalties for 3rd and Subsequent Offenses

When you hit your 3rd offense within three years of two prior offenses, the civil penalty fine increases to $150. As with previous offenses, you will lose your registration and license plates for 30 days until you obtain financial responsibility and pay the reinstatement fee of $50 (this fee only applies if your license has been suspended). You still face jail time with a chance of probation, but it may be harder to plea this time. 

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