Simply put, in the Buckeye State, if you don’t have vehicle insurance, you can’t drive. The penalties for driving without insurance in Ohio are serious and can vary, depending on the circumstance. Driving uninsured could result in a loss of driving privileges, suspension of license plates and vehicle registration. You are required to pay reinstatement fees ranging from $160-$660 to get your license plates and registration back. You may be required to file SR22 insurance for a 3-5 year period and your vehicle could be impounded for 30-60 days for violating the insurance requirement.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
In the state of Ohio, if the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) determines you drove your vehicle while uninsured, you are subject to a range of penalties including a mandatory driver’s license suspension, reinstatement fees and the possibility of a jail term, depending on the offense. Insurance status is typically enforced by: the verification of proof of insurance during a traffic stop, traffic court appearances and upon random checks by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. Per the Ohio Financial Responsibility Law, drivers are required to prove they're able to be responsible for any accidents they cause by carrying the minimum amounts of liability insurance: a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident and $25,000 property damage.
If you are stopped by law enforcement and cannot prove you're insured at that time, you’re given a notice explaining the ways you can provide such proof: sending a copy when paying the fine, bringing proof when appearing in traffic court and sending proof when requested by the BMV. Failure to provide evidence results in a suspension process through the BMV. Failure to respond to a Notice of Suspension will result in an individual’s driving and registration privileges being suspended, even if the individual was properly insured at the time of the traffic stop.
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 imposed by a court of law):
|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|
|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|
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|
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 at scene of accident, you will lose your license until all requirements are met. For the 1st offense, your registration and license plates are suspended until you pay the reinstatement fee of $160 (reinstatement fee of $100, compliance fee of $50 and registrar service fee of $10). Registration privileges may be restored upon payment of the required reinstatement fee and filing of SR22 insurance or bond for a 3-5 year period (depending on the offense). Once the suspension is in effect, any driver who violates a financial responsibility suspension will have his/her vehicle immobilized and license plates confiscated for 30 days.
Penalties for 2nd Offense
If the 2nd offense occurs within five years of a previous violation, your license is suspended for a full year. The court may grant limited driving privileges after the first 15 days of the suspension. The suspension of registration and license plates continues until you pay the reinstatement fee which jumps up to $360 (reinstatement fee of $300, compliance fee of $50 and registrar service fee of $10) on a 2nd offense. Any driver who violates a financial responsibility suspension for a second time will have his/her vehicle immobilized and license plates confiscated for 60 days.
Penalties for 3rd and Subsequent Offenses
If the 3rd offense or subsequent offense occurs within five years of a previous violation, your license is suspended for two full years. The court may grant limited driving privileges after the first 30 days of the suspension. The suspension of registration and license plates continues until you pay the reinstatement fee, which jumps up to $660 (reinstatement fee of $600, compliance fee of $50 and registrar service fee of $10) on a 3rd or subsequent offense. Any driver who violates a financial responsibility suspension for a third or subsequent time will have his/her vehicle forfeited and sold and the person will not be permitted to register any motor vehicle in Ohio for five years.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance In An Accident
If you are involved in a traffic accident without the appropriate insurance coverage, additional penalties can apply, including a security suspension of two years or more, and a judgment suspension for an indefinite period until the judgment is settled. If the Ohio BMV receives a State Crash Report (BMV 3303) that indicates individuals involved as being uninsured, and the report also lists personal injury, or property damage in excess of $400, a security suspension for damages will be placed on all uninsured driver/owner’s driving records until a payment agreement or full payment of damages is made, or until a judgment is received showing the uninsured driver/owner was not at fault in the accident.