Auto Insurance Basics

Penalties for Driving without Insurance in Virginia

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In the state of Virginia, you must purchase auto insurance that at least meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements: bodily injury/death of one person $25,000, bodily injury/death of two or more persons $50,000 and property damage of $20,000. Driving without insurance in Virginia can result in severe penalties, depending on the circumstance. If you’re found to be driving a car without proper insurance in place, and you have not elected to pay the $500 uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee, which allows you to drive uninsured for a determined length of time, you could be convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor, forced to pay a $500 fine and subject to losing your driver’s license, vehicle registration and license plates. Driving uninsured can also result in receiving order to maintain a proof of insurance certification (SR-22) on file for three years.   

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Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) monitors insurance coverage through an electronic insurance verification program. If the DMV determines that you have been driving without the appropriate insurance coverage, you are subject to a $500 fine, the loss of driving privileges and a suspension of your registration plates. In addition, you can be convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor for immediately failing to surrender your license plates and knowingly driving uninsured (unless the vehicle registration has been deactivated). If no record of liability insurance is found, you’ll have 30 days to submit proof of insurance before you get fined.

If you fail to present valid proof of active insurance when requested by law enforcements, such as at traffic stops or at the scene of an accident, you can face severe penalties. For each offense, if you do not have adequate coverage or have not paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee, you are charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor. Being punished for a class 3 misdemeanor charge in Virginia means your driver’s license and vehicle registration privileges are suspended and a maximum fine of $500 will be assessed. In order to have your driving and vehicle registration privileges reinstated, you are required to pay the $500 fine, buy auto insurance in Virginia, and ask your insurer to file a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) with the DMV for three years, as well as pay a $145 reinstatement fee.

Avoiding the Penalties

Virginia state law gives drivers who are unwilling or unable to purchase car insurance the option to pay the $500 UMV fee which fulfills your financial responsibility and allows you to drive uninsured for 12 months. It does not provide you with any insurance protection; it just gives you the freedom to drive uninsured at your own risk, without facing any penalties. If you don’t need the full 12 months, the fee can be prorated for a shorter time period. This fee expires at the same time as your registration and must be paid again at renewal, or when the 12 months are up.

If you have been found to be driving without insurance and you have not paid the UMV fee, the Virginia legislature states that you must be granted an administrative hearing before you can be penalized or suspended. Before a suspension goes into effect, Virginia motorists have the right to an administrative hearing to prove and make their case why the penalty should not be enforced. Any request for an administrative hearing must be received within 180 days of the date listed on the notice of suspension. Additional instructions can also be found on the notice. 

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