Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in West Virginia

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in West Virginia

Like most states, West Virginia requires drivers to purchase car insurance to financially protect themselves and others on the road. If you're caught driving without coverage, the state considers it a misdemeanor that's punishable by fines and even jail time. But learning about West Virginia's car insurance laws and buying basic coverage can help keep you on the right track.

Penalties for driving uninsured in West Virginia

Under WV Code §17A, drivers must carry car insurance that contains at least $25,000 for bodily injuries per person, $50,000 for bodily injuries per accident and $25,000 for property damage. If you don't have enough coverage (or none at all), the state may find out through its electronic verification system or when an officer pulls you over on the road. Here's what the penalties entail:

Type of penalty

First offense
Second and subsequent offenses


$200 – $5,000

License suspension

30 days90 days

Registration suspension

Suspended until proof of insurance submitted

Alternative penalty fee

(In case proof is submitted before suspension effective date) $200N/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

When do I need to show proof of coverage?

It's not easy to evade financial responsibility in West Virginia. Police officers may ask you to present proof of car insurance when you're at a routine checkpoint, pulled over for a traffic violation or involved in a car accident. West Virginia has also developed an electronic car insurance verification system using a continually updated database. If the DMV flags you using this system, you may face the consequences of driving while uninsured.

First offense

When you're first caught driving without proof of coverage, the state will give you a chance to fix the problem. You'll receive a notice of license suspension and registration revocation that's effective 30 days from the date on the notice. If you send proof of an existing insurance policy to the DMV within that grace period, you can keep your license and registration and will just pay a $200 fine. If you have more than one car registered in your name, the DMV will expect proof of insurance for all of your vehicles.

But if you're convicted of driving without insurance, then the state will take your driver's license and registration for 30 days and fine you $200. To get your documents back, you'll need to purchase car insurance, show proof of coverage, and pay a $100 registration-reinstatement fee and a $50 license-reinstatement fee. Your insurer will also need to file an SR-22 form on your behalf for three years.

Second and subsequent offenses

Violating this law again will result in harsher penalties. The fine increases to as much as $5,000, and the state will suspend your license and registration for 90 days. You won't get the option of showing proof of coverage to waive some of these penalties. At the end of your suspension period, you can get your documents back after paying a $150 reinstatement fee, showing proof of coverage and asking your insurer to file an SR-22 on your behalf.

Criminal penalties

Because driving without car insurance is considered a misdemeanor, you may also have to serve jail time ranging from 15 days to one year — whether you're a first-time offender or not. Repeat offenders may receive steeper penalties.

Buying auto insurance in West Virginia

The consequences of violating the financial responsibility law go beyond fines and jail time. Because car insurance companies will see you as a higher risk, may have a hard time finding cheap auto insurance in West Virginia. Some insurers may be unwilling to insure you all together.

If you're having trouble finding coverage, head to the West Virginia Automobile Insurance Plan, which provides insurance for drivers labeled as high risk.

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SR-22 Insurance

An SR-22 form is a certificate that proves you have the minimum required auto insurance. You only need an SR-22 if your state or court orders you to get one after a major driving violation.

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