What Happens If I Drive Without Insurance in Texas?

October 9th, 2017 by Tad Nelson in Traffic Offenses

If you have ever been pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation, you know the drill. The officer will ask to see your license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. But what if you do not have insurance? Maybe you forgot to send in your monthly payment and the insurer canceled your policy. Or perhaps you simply could not afford your premiums. Can you be arrested–or even go to jail–for driving without insurance?

What Car Insurance Does Texas Require?

The State of Texas requires all licensed drivers to demonstrate “financial responsibility,” which normally means carrying a minimum amount of insurance coverage. Obviously, you are free to purchase more coverage, and in many cases it makes financial sense to do so. Indeed, the mandatory minimums are unlikely to cover a serious accident: just $25,000 for personal injury (or death) to one person or $50,000 to all persons injured or killed in the same accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident.

Even without insurance, there are other means of establishing financial responsibility, including:

  • Depositing $55,000 in cash or securities with the Texas State Comptroller, which can be used to pay off any judgments arising from a car accident;
  • Depositing a $55,000 cashier’s check with the County Judge; and
  • If a person owns more than 25 motor vehicles, by “obtaining a certificate of self-insurance.”

Potential Fines & Surcharges

Under Section 601.191 of the Texas Transportation Code, if you operate a motor vehicle without insurance–or otherwise establishing financial responsibility–a police officer can cite you for a misdemeanor. You will not face jail time, just a fine of between $175 and $300 for a first offense. If you are cited a second time, the range of fines increases from a minimum of $300 to a maximum of $1,000.

The Texas Department of Public Safety also has the authority, under Section 708.103 of the Transportation Code, to “assess a surcharge” against your license if you are cited for driving without insurance. This surcharge is $250 per year, unless you “establish financial responsibility” within 60 days of the offense. If you do not have insurance, this means purchasing and prepaying for a policy for a term of at least six months.

Need Help Fighting a Traffic Citation?

Of course, it may be the case that you have insurance but lacked sufficient proof when detained on a traffic violation. If that is the case, you can get the citation dismissed if you show up in court and present proof of insurance–that is to say, insurance that was in effect at the time you were cited. And even the court upholds the citation, you may be able to get your fine reduced to less than $175 if you are financially unable to pay.

If you need assistance from an experienced Houston traffic violations attorney in fighting a citation or other misdemeanor charge, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Houston, Galveston, or League City today.

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