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Driving without insurance in Ohio

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Most drivers are always looking for ways to save – especially on car insurance – and sometimes, for Ohio drivers, this means that they’ll opt for driving without insurance in Ohio. But does this have any consequences? Is it safe to do so? Is it even legal?

The answer to the last question is yes – it is illegal to drive without insurance in Ohio and doing so can come with a whole variety of penalties.

Ohio car insurance laws

Ohio law requires all drivers to have, at minimum, a 25/50/25 policy. Written out, this means that if you are found at fault in an accident your insurance provider must pay up to:

  • $25,000 per person for bodily injury/ death
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury/ death
  • $25,000 per accident for property damage

Of course, this is just the minimum, and you can always purchase more liability protection if your budget allows. Though the above amounts are a lot of money, there are many scenarios where they wouldn’t be enough. For example, many new cars cost between $40-$50k. Any amount that exceeds your policy limits must be paid by you out of pocket.

Two states have unusual insurance laws where you can technically get by with auto insurance. Those states are Virginia and New Hampshire. However, Ohio doesn’t have any legal loopholes, which means if you want to drive you must have at least a basic policy with minimum coverage.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Ohio

Is there a penalty for driving without insurance in Ohio? Yes, in fact, there are multiple penalties.

Ohio has two ways to determine if you are driving without car insurance. Pulling you over and asking for proof of car insurance, or the Ohio BMV being notified by your previous insurance provider that you’ve dropped them.

If you’re given a ticket for no insurance, Ohio has three phases of penalties to prevent you from driving without insurance again.

First offense

Your license will be immediately suspended and a variety of fines will immediately take effect if you’re caught driving without car insurance.

The fees are $160 in total:

  • $100 reinstatement fee
  • $50 compliance fee
  • $10 registrar fee

Ohio will restore your driving privileges once you pay all of the appropriate fees and are able to provide proof of insurance. If the state finds that you have violated any terms, it will take your license plates for a full 30 days and immobilize your car.

Second offense

If you are caught driving without insurance within five years of your first offense, Ohio will suspend your driver’s license for an entire year. It’s possible to get some driving privileges after 15 days, but this is not a guarantee and will be granted or denied at the court’s discretion.

To reinstate your license after a second offense costs more than the first. In total, you’ll pay $360:

  • $300 reinstatement fee
  • $50 compliance fee
  • $10 registrar fee

If it’s found you have violated any terms afterward, Ohio will confiscate your car and license plates for a full 60 days (as opposed to 30 days for your first offense).

Third offense and beyond

If you’re caught driving without insurance for a third time within 5 years, Ohio will force you to surrender your license for a full two years. It’s possible a judge may allow you to have partial driving privileges after 30 days – but this is not a guarantee.

The reinstatement fee is double the amount for a second offense. In total you will be expected to pay $660:

  • $600 reinstatement fee
  • $50 compliance fee
  • $10 registrar fee

If Ohio deems you have violated any terms, it will not only take your car away from you but will sell it and take any profits it receives. Furthermore, you won’t be able to register another car for five years.

Getting into an accident without insurance in Ohio

If you’re in Ohio driving without insurance and get into an accident, the first thing that is going to happen is you will be given a citation by an officer for not being able to provide proof of insurance (in which case, all of the penalties outlined above will go into effect).

If you are not at fault, your worries stop there. However, if you are at fault, you’re going to have some possible scenarios play out.

Remember: Ohio is a tort state, which means that drivers who are considered at-fault for accidents are responsible for any medical and property damage costs they cause. In many cases, this can be an extreme amount of money.

If you are unable to pay for everything out of pocket, it’s very likely you will be sued. In which case, any assets you have (such as a home, boat or car) will likely be liquidated.

All of this is especially true if the damages you cause are more than $400. If they are, Ohio may suspend your driving privileges for up to two years until a payment agreement is met.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance in Ohio?

Choosing the best car insurance in Ohio is no easy task. This is because everyone has different needs. Some things people look for include:

  • Strongest customer service
  • Strongest financial rating
  • Cheapest premiums
  • Best discounts
  • Best mobile app
  • Best for bundling

Therefore, there are a lot of ways to answer this question. For an in-depth dive on this very subject, read our Best Car Insurance Companies in Ohio page.

Does Ohio have a lot of uninsured drivers?

Yes, Ohio has a fair amount of uninsured drivers compared to other states. According to the Insurance Information Institute’s latest study, just over 12% of Ohioans drive without insurance, making it the 22nd worst state.

Does Ohio have a lot of traffic accidents?

Yes, a large amount of claims come out of Ohio each year. According to the Ohio State Patrol, in 2020 there were a total of 241,363 traffic accidents. Of those 241,363 accidents:

  • 1,138 were fatal
  • 5,826 led to serious physical injuries
  • 177,023 property damage only
Written by
Lauren Ward
Insurance Contributor
Lauren Ward has nearly 10 years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and She covers auto, homeowners, life insurance, and other topics in the personal finance industry.