In South Carolina, motorists who drive without the required insurance can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. Failure to present insurance papers or an insurance ID when a traffic official asks for it will result in a $100-200 fine and the possible confiscation of registration and license plates. You will need to either pay the $550 Uninsured Motorist Fee or file a SR-22 immediately after the citation. Additionally, you get a surcharge of $5 for every day that a new insurance policy is not submitted to Court. This is stated in Article 3 Section 56-10-240 of the South Carolina Motor Vehicle Registration and Financial Security Code of Laws. Details of the penalties are outlined here:
|First Offense||Second Offense||Third or Subsequent Offense|
|Fine||$550 Uninsured Motorist fee; $100 - $200 fine or imprisonment||$200; additional $5 for every day without insurance||$5 for every day without insurance|
|Daily fine for lapse||Assesment of $5 per day for lapse in required coverage||Assesment of $5 per day of lapse in required coverage||Assesment of $5 per day of lapse in required coverage|
|Imprisonment||30 days or fine||30 days; a combination of fines and imprisonment||45 days to 6 months|
|Driving Privilege||Suspension of Registration and License||Suspension of Registration and License||Suspension of Registration and License|
|Reinstatement Requirements||$200 reinstatement fee; SR-22||$200 reinstatement fee; must furnish proper proof of insurance||$200 reinstatement fee; must furnish proper proof of insurance|
Penalties for Driving Uninsured in South Carolina
If you are a motorist in South Carolina, you are required to have two types of insurance coverages: liability insurance to cover damages and losses suffered by the other party in case of a road mishap in the limits of 25/50/25, and Uninsured Motorist Insurance to cover damages and losses you yourself suffered when an uninsured driver causes an accidents, also in the limits of 25/50/25.
But your involvement in an accident isn’t the only time you’ll need a car insurance policy on hand - you're required to have coverage anytime you own a vehicle and drive it on the roads of South Carolina, or register as an uninsured driver. When you are pulled over for anything, from a minor traffic infraction to a typical check point, you will need to produce physical or electronic evidence of being insured. If you cannot and you are cited for driving uninsured, you would need your insurer to file an SR-22 form for you. The SR-22 is proof that you do have an active policy that meets State liability requirements, and will continue to have one. It guarantees your financial responsibility in the future. If you, however, do not have existing coverage, you will simply have to obtain a new one. Inability to perform either can lead to serious penalties.
The first time you are caught driving without insurance without having paid the $550 Uninsured Motorist Fee, the State of South Carolina will confiscate your vehicle registration and license plate. Normally, the Court will give you a 20-business day grace period to either pay the fee or provide proof of insurance. However, if you do not meet the assigned deadline, or are in fact uninsured, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and have to pay additional fine that can run from $100 to $200. Alternatively, the court may order you to serve jail time of 30 days. Your driving privileges, license plate, and vehicle registration will also be suspended. This is something you have to act on immediately, because the State Department of Public Safety will charge you a $5 fine for the total number of days you remain uninsured. Reinstatement of your registration will cost you $200, and you have to file an SR-22 to prove financial responsibility in the future.
If, within 10 years of your first violation, you are once again caught driving uninsured, you will have to pay a $200 fine. Plus, there is a $5 per day surcharge until you are able to produce a proper proof of insurance. On top of this financial repercussion, you will be subjected to imprisonment for 30 days as well. As in the first offense, your driving privileges, license plate, and vehicle registration will be suspended with a reinstatement made possible once you’ve produced proper proof of insurance to Court. The reinstatement fee will still hold at $200.
Third or Subsequent Offense
Being caught driving without insurance for the third time or more, within 10 years of your prior violation, will come with the harshest consequences. You will be categorized as a Habitual Offender and sentenced to imprisonment for 45 days to 6 months. The length of your jail term will depend on the number of times you have violated The South Carolina Insurance Law. Likewise, your driving privileges, license plate, and vehicle registration will be suspended. Your right to a reinstatement will only be honored after you’ve served your time at the State Penitentiary, and only when you finally have a proper insurance policy to present to Court. As before, the reinstatement fee will be at $200.
Re-applying for Auto Insurance in South Carolina
Once you have been convicted of a misdemeanor for Driving Without Insurance, this information will stain your driving record. It doesn’t matter if you’re a First-time Offender or a Habitual Offender. The mere fact that you have lapsed in insurance coverage marks you as a High-Risk Driver. As a High-Risk Driver, carriers may subject you to higher insurance rates. You might even have difficulty finding an insurance provider that will be willing to cover you.
For such a situation, the State of South Carolina has designed an alternative option for High-Risk Drivers. If you have been denied coverage by at least one carrier, you may choose to contact the Associated Auto Insurers Plan of South Carolina (AAIPSC) to request for assistance.