Ohio requires all drivers to carry insurance — and if you're caught without it, the penalties are steep.
The state may temporarily revoke your driver's license, license plates and vehicle registration, plus charge a reinstatement fee of up to $660. You also might need to ask your insurer to file an SR-22 form on your behalf for up to five years. Violate these requirements, and the state may impound or sell your vehicle.
Penalties for driving without insurance
Ohio takes car insurance seriously, and driving without it could be costly. If caught driving while uninsured, the state may decide to suspend your driving privileges, charge fees to reinstate them, and even impound or sell your car.
There are two main ways Ohio can find out you're driving without insurance: You can't provide proof of insurance when a police officer asks for it, or the state's electronic database flags you in the system. In both of these cases, the state will send you a notice.
If you don't have car insurance, you should get quotes from at least three companies. You'll need to buy at least the minimum liability coverage and carry proof of the policy — such as an insurance ID card — while driving. The minimum limits are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 property damage
If you have insurance but forgot to bring it with you, then you may be able to get the citation dismissed. Send proof of insurance when you pay the fine or bring the proof to traffic court. If you don't respond to the notice one way or another, the state may temporarily take away your driving privileges.
In the table below, we outline what could happen depending on the number of offenses attached to your record.
|Additional fines or penalties may be imposed by a court of law||Driver's license suspended until all requirements met||$160 restoration fee for vehicle registration and license plates||Vehicle and license plates confiscated for 30 days|
|Additional fines or penalties may be imposed by a court of law||Driver's license suspended for a full year. Limited driving privileges may be granted after 15 days.||$360 restoration fee for vehicle registration and license plates||Vehicle and license plates confiscated for 60 days|
Third and subsequent offenses
|Additional fines or penalties may be imposed by a court of law||Driver's license is suspended for two years. Limited driving privileges may be granted after 30 days.||$660 restoration fee for vehicle registration and license plates||Vehicle impounded and sold; five-year suspension on registering vehicles|
Penalties for first offense
If you can't provide proof of insurance at a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident, the state will temporarily suspend your driver's license, license plates and vehicle registration. You'll need to pay $160 total to get the license plates back — a $100 reinstatement fee, $50 compliance fee and $10 registrar service fee. The state will restore your registration once you pay the fees and your insurer files an SR-22 form on your behalf. The form will need to stay on file for three to five years.
If you violate any terms of the suspension, the state will immobilize your vehicle and take your license plates for 30 days.
Penalties for second offense
If you're caught driving uninsured within five years of your first offense, the state will suspend your driver's license for a full year — but you may be able to get limited driving privileges after 15 days. The reinstatement fee jumps to $300, which means you need to pay $360 total to retrieve your plates and registration. Violate these terms, and the state will confiscate your car and license plates for 60 days.
Penalties for third and subsequent offenses
Caught driving a third time within five years, and you'll have to surrender your driver's license for two full years. The court may grant limited driving privileges after the first 30 days of the suspension. But you'll need to pay $660 this time to collect your registration and license plates. Violate these terms, and the state will take and sell your vehicle — and you won't be able to register one for the next five years.
Penalties for driving without insurance in an accident
You may be on the hook for additional penalties if you're involved in a traffic accident and lack the appropriate insurance coverage.
The Ohio BMV receives state crash reports (form BMV 3303) that include who was in a car accident, whether the drivers had insurance, and whether the crash resulted in property damage or injuries.
If the BMV hears you were in an accident while uninsured, and the damage amounts to $400 or more, the state may suspend your driving privileges for two or more years as a security suspension. Once the drivers reach a payment agreement, the suspension may be lifted. But the state may also impose an indefinite judgment suspension until the judgment is settled.