Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Tennessee

Tennessee state law says if you’re caught driving without insurance, serious penalties can occur. A recent legislative change means you could face an increased fine of $300, be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, have your driver’s license and registration suspended and your vehicle towed. On top of this, in order to reinstate these, you'll have to pay extra fees. You may also be required to file an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility, which your insurer will charge you extra for, for three years. If you are involved in an accident that resulted in any bodily injuries while driving without insurance, the conviction could become a Class A misdemeanor with more severe penalties. The Financial Responsibility Law in Tennessee requires drivers to carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance: 25/50/15.

Here is a table that illustrates the penalties under different circumstances, followed by more detailed explanations (these penalties are in addition to any fines or penalties that may be imposed by a court of law):

Failure to Provide ProofDriving Without Insurance
Fine $25 coverage failure fee after 15 days; an additional $100 continued coverage failure fee after additional 30 days $300
Driving Privilege Driver's license and registration suspended after 45 days until proof provided Driver's license and registration suspended until insurance proof provided and driver's license examination retaken.
Other $65 license and registration restoration fee; $50 fee to commissioner of safety $65 restoration fee; $50 fee to commissioner of safety; SR-22 certificate for three years

Penalties for Failure to Provide Proof of Insurance

In the state of Tennessee, if there is evidence from the online insurance verification system model (Insurance Industry Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration Model) that a registered motor vehicle is not insured, the Department of Revenue will send a notice requesting the driver to provide proof within 15 days. If you can show adequate coverage within that time, the charge of failing to provide evidence will be dismissed. If you fail to provide satisfactory proof, you’re penalized with a $25 coverage failure fee, which must be paid within 30 days. If the proof of adequate insurance coverage and the coverage failure fee is not submitted within 30 days of the notice, you will be further penalized with a $100 continued coverage failure fee and your driving privileges and registration will be suspended. To reinstate your driving privilege would take an additional $115 fee ($50 fee paid to the Commissioner of Safety and $65 restoration fee.)

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

If you fail to present valid proof of active insurance when requested by law enforcement officers, such as at traffic stops or at the scene of an accident, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $300. Additionally, your vehicle may be towed (at the officer’s discretion), which means you'll have to take time out of your day to pick it up. You may have your driver’s license and registration suspended until you provide proof of financial responsibility. You’ll pay a $65 restoration fee, a $50 fee paid to the Commissioner of Safety and you may be asked to pass the driver’s license examination again to get your license and registration back. If you’re found to be operating without insurance, you’ll also be required to provide proof of future financial responsibility (SR-22 certificate) for three years from the date your driving privileges suspension ends. 

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in an Accident

According to the Financial Responsibility Law in Tennessee, if you’re driving without insurance and involved in an accident that results in bodily injury or death, you face a Class A misdemeanor on your record. If you are convicted, the possible penalties are fines up to $2,500 and imprisonment of up to 11 months and 29 days. That's just a hint of the legal repercussions. The injuries and accident you cause will likely result in medical and car repair bills that are your responsibility to pay out of pocket, especially if the other driver pursues legal action. That's something the bodilly injury or property damage of an auto insurance policy would typically cover, up to certain limits. If your concern is that auto insurance prices are too high, you can always shop for lower car insurance quotes in TN to see if something can fit your budget.

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