Florida—like all states—requires that drivers carry at least minimum levels of auto insurance. You are required to have auto insurance coverage in place prior to obtaining a registration or license plate, and must continue to carry that insurance throughout your period of registration. Should you drop your insurance, you must surrender your vehicle’s plates before the insurance expires, or you could have your driver’s license suspended by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles up to three years, or until you reinstate your insurance coverage.
The High Number of Uninsured Motorists in the State of Florida
In the state of Florida, the rate of uninsured drivers is almost one in four—the second-worst rate in the nation, following Oklahoma. In an effort to force drivers to obtain auto insurance, ten states (Florida is not one of them) have “no pay, no play” laws which limit an uninsured driver’s ability to claim damages should that person be involved in an auto accident with an insured driver. The “no pay, no play” laws have had only a minor effect on the number of uninsured motorists, however, reducing those numbers 1.6 percent or less.
While many believe that only those who are lawbreakers in other areas go without auto insurance, in fact, the majority of those who are uninsured simply can’t afford auto insurance. Studies have found that states with higher poverty rates tend to also have higher numbers of uninsured (Florida’s poverty rate is 17 percent, and 23.8 percent of its motorists are uninsured while the poverty rate of Massachusetts is 11.9 percent, and only 3.9 percent of its motorists are uninsured).
Penalties for No Motor Vehicle Insurance
If you are driving with no motor vehicle insurance, you could be fined as follows:
- For a first offense of driving without auto insurance coverage in the state of Florida, you will have your license and registration suspended for up to three years, and will pay a $150 reinstatement fee when you obtain insurance coverage once again.
- For a second offense of driving without auto insurance coverage in the state of Florida, you will have your license and registration suspended for up to three years, and will pay a $250 reinstatement fee if the insurance lapse occurs within three years of your first offense.
- For a third and subsequent offenses of driving without auto insurance coverage in the state of Florida, you will have your license and registration suspended for up to three years, and will pay a $500 reinstatement fee if the lapse occurred within three years of your last offense.
How Does the DHSMV Know My Insurance Was Suspended?
If you think the Florida DHSMV won’t know if you let your insurance lapse, you are wrong—your insurance carrier will immediately notify the DHSMV and you will be sent a notice of suspension in the mail. You will have an opportunity to provide proof of new auto insurance coverage prior to the date of suspension, however this new auto insurance must show you had it in place before your old policy expired or was cancelled.
What If I Was Involved in an Accident While Uninsured?
You will be in even more trouble if you were involved in an accident (which was your fault) in which another person was hurt or killed, and you were driving with no insurance. If this happens, you will be required to provide an SR22 Certificate which mandates that you carry extra coverage with higher limits than what would normally be required under Florida law. You will be required to purchase bodily injury liability coverage in addition to the already-required coverage—an extremely costly penalty. You could find it difficult—if not impossible—to find an insurance company willing to risk issuing auto insurance to you.
If you have been cited for no motor vehicle insurance it would be extremely beneficial to discuss the issue with an experienced criminal attorney from The Law Place. While it may seem the offense is not all that serious, you could find yourself experiencing adverse consequences from such an offense for many years down the road. Contact a criminal defense attorney at The Law Place today! Call 941-444-4444.