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Section 303 of the Utah Insurance Code states that all registered motor vehicles in the state must maintain liability coverage with minimum limits of 25/65/15. Driving without insurance or simply allowing insurance to lapse is considered a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable with fines and license and registration suspensions. Reinstating your driving privileges can also be quite costly.
There are several ways you will be asked to present proof of your car insurance in the state of Utah. One, when a police officer approaches you at a routine checkpoint. Two, when you’re involved in a road accident. Three, when the state’s Uninsured Motorist Identification Database Program identifies you to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Failure to provide one form of the acceptable proofs of Insurance in these circumstances will result in the following consequences.
In Utah, proof of insurance can either be your actual insurance policy, insurance ID card, or your policy’s declaration form. Here is a table illustrating the types of penalty you may expect to get under the different circumstances:
|Type of Penalty||Conviction after a Traffic Stop Citation||Conviction after an Accident|
|First offense||Second offense||First offense||Second offense|
|Driving Privilege||Suspension till proof of insurance is provided||1 year compulsory suspension|
|SR-22||Maintain for 3 years|
|Court Security Surcharge||$50|
|License reinstatement fee||$30|
|Registration reinstatement fee||$100|
When You're Identified by the Database and Caught at Traffic Stops
In Utah, traffic stops are venues where a police officer can determine if you are carrying appropriate liability coverage or not. When you are halted and asked for your proof of insurance, you should be able to produce an active policy or a current insurance ID card right there and then. Alternatively, Utah also has an electronic monitoring system that can verify if your insurance policy has lapsed in the last 3 months. This program employs the cooperation of licensed insurance carriers in the state. If your policy appears as inactive on the database, the DPS will send you a notice which you must reply to with an attachment of your proof of insurance within 15 days.
In both instances, failure to prove your financial responsibility will subject you to Utah’s uniform monetary sentence for insurance law violation: $400 fine plus $50 surcharge on your first offense, and $1,000 plus $50 surcharge on your second and subsequent offenses (Utah Code 41-12a-302.)
Reducing Your Fines: Compliance Credit
There is some relief if you're caught driving without insurance. If you manage to buy insurance and have your insurer file a SR-22 prior to your scheduled court appearance or sentencing, the court can reduce your fine by $300 for each offense as a compliance credit. In other words, your fine would get dropped to $100 on your first offense, and $700 on your next offenses (instead of the original $400 and $1,000).
The exception to this fine reduction is if you were convicted for not carrying any form of acceptable proof of insurance while operating the car. In this case, you must pay the fine in full (Utah Code 41-12a-303.2).
On the other hand, in case you can prove that you actually did have insurance coverage in effect at the time of citation, the court will dismiss the charge and fines upon proof.
Driving Uninsured in an Accident
You can face harsher penalties if you got into a car accident, and were found out to be driving uninsured. You are subject to the same monetary sentence for violating the insurance law: $400 fine plus $50 surcharge on your first offense, and $1,000 plus $50 surcharge on your second and subsequent offenses. You may even stand to suffer increased fines if the court finds that you are at fault for the car crash. For one, you may have to pay an extra $30 accident fee. Your license and registration will be suspended as well, but this time for a whole year before you may begin the process of reinstating your driving privileges.
Reinstatement Fees and Requirements
To reinstate your license, you must be able to present to the court a newly purchased insurance policy or your SR-22 proof of future financial responsibility. Bear in mind that you must be diligent in maintaining your SR-22 for 3 years from the day of submission, as you will be under probation for a certain period of time. As soon as you’ve paid your violation fines and the $30 reinstatement fee, you may drive on the streets of Utah again.
As for your registration, you may have this restored by returning to court with evidence that properly states your ownership of the vehicle tagged on your ticket. Along with this, you must present a valid ID with your photo. Proof of insurance in the form of a policy or an 3-year valid SR-22 will also have to be submitted to court. Your violation fines and reinstatement fee worth $100 will, likewise, have to be paid. If your registration has been revoked as part of your sentence, you will have to pay an additional $30 administration fee for reinstatement after registration confiscation.
The above is true for all situations. The only difference when you are caught driving uninsured in an accident is that you’ll have to wait for your compulsory suspension period to end before you can begin the reinstatement process.
Re-applying for Auto Insurance in Utah
At the end of the day, penalties that come with driving uninsured can prove to be more costly than purchasing auto insurance in the first place. Case in point, an insurance law conviction tags you as a high-risk driver. This means if you plan to get an Utah auto insurance policy at this time, you will either be denied by mainstream agencies or imposed with a surcharge for being too risky to cover. An alternative is to apply for a policy with the Utah Automobile Insurance Plan (UT AIP) through any Utah car insurance agent.