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Like most states, West Virginia aims to keep its citizens safe by ensuring motorists are driving insured vehicles on its roadways. West Virginians found to be driving without the required liability coverage are guilty of a misdemeanor. In West Virginia, misdemeanors are punishable by heavy fines and lengthy prison time. Here's what you need to know about the penalties and fines in the Mountain State.
|Type of Penalty||First Offense||Second & Subsequent Offenses|
|Fine||At least $200, up to $5,000|
|License Suspension||30 days||90 days|
|Registration Suspension||Suspended until proof of insurance submitted|
|Alternative Penalty Fee||(in case proof is submitted before suspension effective date) $200||N/A|
|Reinstatement Requirements||$100 registration reinstatement fee; $50 license reinstatement fee|
|SR-22 Maintenance||3 years|
|Criminal Penalty||Possibly 15 days to 1 year jail term, as an alternative to fines|
Penalties for Driving Uninsured in West Virginia
Under WV Code §17A, the compulsory financial security in West Virginia is 25/50/25. If you don’t carry these minimum limits as evidenced in a Certificate of Insurance or Form WV-1, the State can find out through two means: on the road and online. The penalties are outlined below.
When Proof of Insurance Can Be Requested For
It is not easy to evade your financial responsibility in West Virginia. Police officers are authorized to request your proof of insurance whenever you pass a routine checkpoint, when you’re pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, or when you’re investigated about your involvement in a car crash. But aside from these, West Virginia has developed an electronic insurance verification system. It allows law enforcement and the courts to verify evidence of insurance coverage via a periodically updated database.
If this is your first time to be driving without insurance, or between insurance companies, know that the State will not go easy on you. Once convicted, you will be charged with a minimum fine of $200, followed by license suspension for 30 days and vehicle registration suspension until you get proof of insurance to the DMV.
When you're cited, police officers will give you a notice of license suspension and registration revocation with an effective date 30 days after the notice was sent. This 30-day grace period should give you enough time to get proof of insurance that you're meeting at least the minimum coverage limits required by WV law. If you are able to prove you're insured within the 30-day grace period, your suspension and reinstatement fees will be waived, but you'll still have to pay the statutory $200 penalty for your first uninsured citation. You should act on this immediately to reduce the impact. Keep in mind that if you have more than one car registered in your name with the DMV, they will expect to see proof of insurance for all of them before waiving the suspension.
In case you did not have an auto insurance in place before the suspension effective date, you will need to work a little harder to reinstate your driving privileges. First, you will have to present to the court proof of a current insurance policy, which can be in form of an insurance ID card, copy of the policy declaration page, or the policy itself. Then, you will need to have your insurer file an SR-22 that is kept with the DMV (with insurance to be maintained for 3 years). Finally, you will also need to pay a $100 registration reinstatement fee and a $50 license reinstatement fee.
Second and Subsequent Offenses
A repeat of the violation, especially within 5 years following your previous conviction, will result in harsher consequences. You will be charged a steeper amount of fine that can go as high as $5,000, your license will be suspended for 90 days, and your car registration will be suspended as well.
Based on the West Virginia Motor Vehicle Code, your suspension cannot begin unless you have received an official written notification of suspension, with the effective date on it. But, note that on your second and future offenses, penalties can no longer be waived even if you furnish a newly purchased policy before the suspension's effective date. If you wish to reclaim your driving privileges, you will have to wait until the end of your suspension period to begin the reinstatement process. Present your proof of insurance and SR-22 to the DMV, and pay the fees of $150 in total for license and registration reinstatement.
It is important to note that as misdemeanor issue, violating West Virginia’s financial responsibility subjects you to criminal penalties. This means your punishment can either be the $200 to $5,000 fine, or 15 days to 1 year in jail. The criminal penalties range the same regardless of you being a first time offender, a subsequent offender, or a habitual offender. However, by the court’s discretion, repeat offenders may be charged with higher penalties.
Buying Auto Insurance in West Virginia
The final and most critical consequence you can get for violating West Virginia’s insurance law is how badly it will reflect on your driving record. Since insurance coverage is required, finding cheap auto insurance in West Virginia may become hard once you have records of insurance lapse. A spotty record can make most insurance carriers decide to give you higher rates, and even potentially unwilling to insure you all together. The West Virginia Automobile Insurance Plan helps guarantee that even drivers labeled as high risk can have access to car insurance.