Drivers in Los Angeles are required by law to carry proof of insurance. If you don’t, you can be charged with a traffic violation and face huge fines. In some cases, your license may even be suspended. Unfortunately, the rules around insurance requirements are complex, and insurance isn’t always affordable, which means that even good people can end up on the wrong end of the law.
If you’ve been charged with driving without insurance in Los Angeles, you need to speak to a lawyer, and the Simmrin Law Group understands how to win uninsured driving cases. Let us perform a free evaluation of your case and help you fight for your rights. Fill out the form to the right or give us a call and get your free consultation today.
Why Is It Illegal to Drive without Insurance in Los Angeles?
This crime is a contentious point under the law, and not everyone agrees that it should be illegal. However, insurance is seen as a way of forcing drivers to take responsibility for any accidents or damage that they cause.
This assignment of responsibility is particularly important because California is considered a “fault state” or tort state for car accidents. In a tort state, the driver who caused an accident is the one who has to pay for all damages and injuries (in most cases).
If drivers don’t carry insurance, it’s hard to be sure that they can pay for expensive damages. Thus, insurance is required for all drivers in the state. This requirement extends to out-of-state drivers visiting California as well.
For a free legal consultation with a driving without insurance lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 928-9347
How Do California’s Uninsured Driver Laws Work?
California Vehicle Code §16029 makes it illegal to drive without evidence of your insurance or another form of financial responsibility. Simply having an insurance policy isn’t enough. Under the law, you must have proof of that insurance in the car at all times.
In most cases, that means that drivers simply keep a proof of insurance card or document in their glovebox. This insurance must meet certain minimum levels:
- At least $15,000 coverage for injury or death for one person
- At least $30,000 coverage for injury or death for multiple people
- At least $5,000 coverage for property damage
Simply Having Insurance Is Not Enough
Having insurance is not the only way to fulfill your legal requirements under Vehicle Code 16029. It is also acceptable to have proof of any of the following:
- A “self-insurance” certificate issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
- Proof of a $35,000 cash deposit that you left with the DMV
- A surety bond of $35,000 from a licensed bond company in California
These items act as proof that you have already provided the minimum $35,000 of financial responsibility required by California law, exempting you from the need for a normal insurance policy, though these bonds and certificates are rare. Few drivers take this route to protect themselves. The majority of drivers simply carry proof of insurance in their car.
Los Angeles Driving Without Insurance Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
What if Your Insurance Was Simply Lapsed or Past Due?
Unfortunately, if your insurance policy was not current at the time you were pulled over, you can still be prosecuted for not having insurance. The same is true if you had a valid policy but were unable to provide proof of it immediately.
However, especially with the latter case, a judge may be sympathetic to your situation. An experienced driver’s insurance lawyer in Los Angeles will be able to help present your case for why your insurance lapsed or why you did not have the proof on you at the time.
What if You’re Not the Owner of the Car?
In Los Angeles, the responsibility is on the driver to make sure they have proof of insurance with them. The person who owns the vehicle is usually the one who takes out the insurance policy. However, even if you borrow a friend’s car, if there is no proof of insurance and you get pulled over, you can still face prosecution, which means drivers are expected to:
- Ask a friend where the proof of insurance is before borrowing a car
- Always get adequate insurance on rental cars
- Ask if a vehicle has insurance before using it, and decline to drive it if it does not
Obviously, these are not realistic expectations in every situation. This is why so many drivers get charged with driving without insurance, even if they thought they were doing everything legally.
As the owner of a vehicle, it is always important that you keep proof of insurance in your car at all times. You don’t want to be responsible for a friend or family member facing charges because you lent them your car without any way to prove that the vehicle was insured.
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What Are the Penalties for Driving without Insurance in Los Angeles?
Driving without insurance carries the possibility of both a fine and some very serious court-imposed sanctions. The fines themselves depend on whether it’s a first offense or not.
A first offense for driving a vehicle with proof of valid insurance will result in a fine of at least $100. The total amount you have to pay can go as high as about $450 if additional fees and penalties are assessed.
Second Offense or More
A second, or any subsequent offense, within a three-year period will mean a fine of between $200 and $500. The grand total can rise to between $900 and $2,500 after all fees and penalties have been ordered.
In addition to paying fines, there are other penalties to which you may be subject. A violation of VC §16029 can result in the police impounding your vehicle. If your lack of insurance was discovered because of an accident that you caused, the DMV may suspend your license.
If your license gets suspended, you will need proof of a special type of insurance (known as an SR-22 form) to get it reinstated. License suspension can last up to four years.
Remember, many of these penalties only apply if you are convicted. It’s possible to win your case even under very serious circumstances. However, you must speak with an experienced Los Angeles driver’s insurance lawyer to give yourself the best chance.
Does Driving without Insurance Go on Your Record?
While driving without insurance typically doesn’t show up on your criminal record, it does appear on your driving record as kept by the DMV. This charge can remain on your driving record for years after the incident.
Unfortunately, this is going to mean you will be dealing with increased insurance rates. This rate increase can lead to a vicious cycle. If the reason you did not have insurance was that you could not afford to pay for it, your ability to pay decreases further with the higher rates.
If this is the case, then an increase in insurance costs is likely to result in you continuing to take your chances of driving without insurance. Taking these risks can lead to further charges, harsher punishments, and even higher insurance costs.
Talk to a Los Angeles Uninsured Driver Lawyer for Free
Getting pulled over without insurance can lead to years of headaches. Don’t let it derail your life. The attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group are here to help you. We offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation to potential clients so that they can understand their best legal options.
Don’t wait to ask for help. Fill out our online contact form or give us a call and get your free consultation today.