Driving without insurance in Washington, D.C.

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Driving without car insurance in Washington, D.C. may prove costly in several ways. Fines are high and increase with the severity of a violation. Additionally, there are a number of time consuming administrative penalties imposed on someone caught driving without insurance in our nation’s capital.

In the end, the amount of money saved by not purchasing car insurance could be quickly outweighed by the fines imposed for a violation and the challenges that come with sorting out legal requirements.

Minimum insurance required in Washington, D.C.

It is required by law in Washington D.C. that all drivers have certain minimum levels of auto liability coverage. Further, drivers must show proof of this coverage when requested by a law enforcement officer. Auto liability insurance helps to protect drivers from the financial consequences of injuring someone in an accident and causing damage to another driver’s vehicle and personal property.

Washington, D.C. requires minimum auto insurance coverage as follows:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $25,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 uninsured motorist property damage liability per person ($200 deductible)

Penalties for driving without insurance in Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., penalties are imposed for both driving without insurance as well as failure to show proof of insurance when properly requested.

Failure to provide proof of insurance

When a driver in Washington, D.C. is pulled over by a law enforcement officer, involved in an automobile accident, or in the process of registering a vehicle or renewing a registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the driver must show proof of insurance for the vehicle. If no proof is presented, the driver is ticketed. If prior to a court appearance, the driver can establish that insurance was in place, then the case may be dismissed.

Penalties for driving without insurance

Penalties for driving without insurance will increase over time if the violation is not corrected:

  • A fine of up to $150 is assessed for when there is a lack of insurance from one to 30 days.
  • An additional fine of $7 is added for each additional 30 days that a driver does not have insurance.
  • The maximum fine amount can reach $2,500.

Suspension

A driver’s vehicle registration can be suspended in Washington D.C. if you fail to maintain continuous insurance or fail to show proof of that insurance when asked to do so by a police officer. There are ways to mitigate these results including setting up a six-month payment plan to pay the accumulated fine after insurance has been acquired.

SR-22 Requirements

An SR-22 is a document required by Washington D.C.’s Financial Responsibility Law and filed with the District as evidence that one has obtained the minimum required levels of liability insurance.

Fees from Washington, D.C.’s online insurance verification system

Washington D.C. does not have an online insurance verification system in place. In practice this means that drivers must always carry proof of auto insurance.

Getting into an accident without insurance

Because Washington D.C. is considered a quasi no-fault state, no matter who causes an accident, you are able to use your own Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance to compensate yourself for your own injuries. However, if you are involved in a car accident and don’t have auto insurance, things may get complicated.

Without insurance, you will be ticketed after an accident and required to comply with all SR-22 requirements. License suspension is also a possibility. There may be other conditions imposed upon your right to drive by the court, depending upon the severity of the accident and the circumstances.

The more serious consequences from being involved in an accident without car insurance in place will be from an insured driver if you are at fault. Even though Washington, D.C. is a no-fault state, an insured driver’s insurance company can sue you for reimbursement of compensation paid to its insured. You can be sued for very significant amounts and if found liable you may be required to pay from your own pocket. Additionally, you will almost certainly be required to pay higher premiums for subsequent insurance policies.

In light of all the above consequences, it is obvious that the best course is to properly insure yourself up front. Though you will protect yourself from legal consequences from the District of Columbia by purchasing the minimum limits, the better approach is to review all of your needs and risks with an auto insurance representative and purchase the true coverage you need for full protection.

Frequently asked questions

What if you provide false insurance information?

Although driving uninsured will cause serious problems, these can become much worse if you add to this violation by attempting to lie about your insurance status. This can include actually falsifying insurance documents or simply making a false statement to a law enforcement officer. In addition, providing false information to your car insurance company may result in a policy cancellation or the denial of a large claim.

How much is car insurance in Washington D.C.?

The average annual cost of minimum coverage car insurance in Washington, D.C. is $704. A full coverage policy will cost on average $1,855 annually. The national annual average for full coverage insurance is $1,674. Rates will vary between individuals depending upon personal factors and driving histories. Obtaining several quotes from good carriers remains the best way to find the most affordable coverage for you.

Is driving without car insurance a misdemeanor or a felony?

Washington D.C. and most other states classify driving without insurance and other traffic violations as misdemeanors. However, the consequences could be very serious. These consequences become much more severe when a driving without insurance violation is coupled with a DUI or a serious accident.

Written by
Rick Hoel
Insurance Contributor
Rick Hoel is an international business attorney and legal and insurance writer for Bankrate.com, Reviews.com and Accessibility.com. Over the last several years, he has covered topics dealing with personal and commercial insurance and technology and the law. Rick is General Counsel and Director of Risk Management and sits on the Board of Power Stow Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Power Stow A/S in Denmark, the world leader in the supply of tracked conveyor systems to the airline industry.
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Insurance Editor