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—and even a suspended license. Unfortunately, the rules around insurance requirements are complex, and insurance isn’t always affordable. This means even good people 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.
The Simmrin Law Group understands how to win uninsured driving cases. We’ve dedicated ourselves to helping drivers who are charged with breaking the law, and helping you get your life back on course. You should not have to risk losing your car, your license or thousands of dollars—let us give you a free consultation and help you. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
Why is it illegal to drive without insurance in Los Angeles?
This 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 they cause.
This 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 includes out-of-state drivers.
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How do California’s uninsured driver laws work?
The law that requires insurance is called California Vehicle Code 16029. This law makes it illegal to drive without evidence of your insurance or other 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, sent out by the insurance company, 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, and
At least $5,000 coverage for property damage
However, 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 DMV,
Proof of a $35,000 cash deposit that you left with the DMV, or
A surety bond of $35,000 from a licensed bond company in California
These essentially 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.
These bonds and certificates are rare, however. For most drivers, the requirement simply means having proof of insurance in your car.
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What if my 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 you simply couldn’t provide proof of it immediately.
Both of these are cases where you need to speak to a lawyer immediately.
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What if I’m 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. Technically it is the person who owns the car who usually takes out the insurance policy. However, even if you are borrowing a friend’s car, if there is no proof of insurance and you are pulled over you can still face prosecution.
This means that 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 driving 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.
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What are the penalties for driving without insurance in Los Angeles?
Driving without insurance carries both a fine and some very serious court-imposed sanctions in some cases.
The fines themselves depend on whether it’s a first offense:
1st offense: A fine of at least $100, which will total about $450 after other penalties are added
2nd offense (or more) in 3 years: A fine of $200 to $500, which totals between $900 and $2500 after fees and penalties are added in
In addition, you can face these special penalties:
Your car may be impounded by the police
If you caused an accident, the DMV can suspend your license
If your license is 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 4 years.
Remember: many of these penalties only apply if you are convicted. It’s possible to win your case—even under very serious circumstances. You need to talk to a lawyer.
Talk to a Los Angeles Uninsured Driver Lawyer for Free
Getting pulled over without insurance can lead to years of headache. Don’t let it derail your life. The attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group are here to help you, and we will give you a FREE consultation to help you understand your best legal options. Don’t wait Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.