Penalties for Driving without Insurance in North Carolina

Driving without car insurance in North Carolina is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, which means you could be on the hook for a number of penalties.

If you're caught driving without car insurance in North Carolina, the state may suspend your driver's license, charge fines ranging from $50–$150 or impose jail time. The penalties are more severe for frequent offenders.

How much insurance do I need in North Carolina?

All drivers in North Carolina must carry car insurance with the following minimum coverage limits:

  • $30,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $60,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage

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Currently insured?

If you're a high-risk driver, you might need to get insurance through the North Carolina Reinsurance Facility (NCRF).

Penalties for driving without insurance

If your policy has lapsed, you must pay the state a civil penalty fee that ranges from $50 to $150. The amount depends on the number of lapses you have on record. More importantly, driving without insurance is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. That means you could either face imprisonment or be placed on probation for up to 45 days.

The state can find out about your insurance lapse in a couple of ways.

  • Your insurance company reports a coverage lapse to the DMV. Insurers are required to notify the department of motor vehicles if you've canceled coverage.
  • You fail to provide proof of coverage. Law enforcement officers can ask you for proof of insurance during traffic stops or at the scene of an accident. If you don't have proof, the officer may fine you and notify the DMV.

In either case, the DMV will send you form FS 5/7, which is a liability insurance termination notice. You have 10 days to respond and prove you either have an existing insurance policy or you've purchased one. If you don't respond by the deadline, the state may take your license plates for 30 days and suspend your registration.

In addition to court fees, here are the penalties you could face for first, second and subsequent offenses.

Fines
Driving privilege
Other

First offense

Civil penalty: $50/License reinstatement fee: $50Registration suspended for 30 daysProbation for 1–45 days

Second offense

Civil penalty: $100/License reinstatement fee: $50Registration suspended for 30 daysJail time or probation for 1–45 days

Third and subsequent offenses

Civil penalty: $150/License reinstatement fee: $50Registration suspended for 30 daysJail time or probation for 1–45 days

If you can't find an insurer willing you sell you a policy, then you can contact the North Carolina Reinsurance Facility. This company provides coverage for high-risk drivers.

Penalties for first offense

First-time offenders get the lowest penalties. If you can't provide proof of insurance when a law enforcement officer asks for it, then you'll pay a $50 civil penalty fine and may be put on probation for up to 45 days. The state will suspend your registration and license plates for 30 days unless you submit proof of insurance and pay an additional $50 for reinstatement.

If you need to buy a new policy after a lapse, then it's a good idea to compare quotes from multiple insurers to make sure you find the best rate. You may need to find an insurer that works with high-risk drivers.

Penalties for second offense

If you have two offenses within three years, the civil penalty increases to $100. The state takes your registration and license plates for 30 days until you buy insurance. If your license was suspended, you'll need to pay the $50 fee to get it back. You also might face jail time or probation for up to 45 days.

You can avoid jail time and suspension by submitting proof of insurance within 10 days of receiving the FS 5/7 notice, along with paying the civil penalty.

Penalties for third and subsequent offenses

When you get a third offense within three years, the civil penalty fine increases to $150. You also lose your registration and license plates for 30 days until you get insurance and pay the $50 reinstatement fee. You may face jail time with a chance of probation.

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