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What are the penalties for driving without insurance in Texas? (2019)

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It’s illegal to drive without car insurance in Texas. First time offenders are subject to a fine of up to $350. Additionally, a surcharge of $250 can be added to your driver’s license fee for up to three years, for a combined cost of $1,100. Repeat offenders risk getting their license suspended. Still, none of these rules are set in stone and certain circumstances will impact the consequences of driving uninsured in the Lone Star State. For example, if you’re uninsured and get into a car accident, your penalties may be higher. This guide goes over most major cases drivers will find themselves in, and what to expect.
Want to avoid getting penalized? If you drive in Texas, the state requires you to carry a minimum of $30,000 in bodily Injury Liability coverage per person, and $60,000 per accident. You also must have at least $25,000 in property damage liability coverage. You could also avoid getting insurance if you carry proof of financial responsibility in the form of a deposit or cashier’s check of at least $50,000.
Texas has a huge problem with uninsured motorists, which is why the fines and penalties here are more severe than other states. In 2008, the Texas Department of Insurance founded TexasSure to deal with uninsured drivers. The initiative is aimed at dolling out harsh punishments for drivers, as well as educating motorists about alternatives to getting insured.

What are the Consequences of Driving Without Insurance in Texas?

First time offenders run the risk of having their drivers license suspended for up to two years, and get a fine of up to $1,100. In some extreme scenarios, a policy officer has the authority to also impound your vehicle (which would increase your total cost). The penalties go up as you get caught multiple times. Also, if you’re discovered to be driving without insurance after getting into an accident, you should expect the consequences to be far worse – if for no other reason than being financially liable for any damages you cased.
OffenseTexas FinesAdditional Penalties
1st$175-$350 plus a $250 fee for the next three yearsVehicle may be impounded. 100% liability for any damages or injuries you casued.
2nd+$300-$100 plus penalty assessmentsVehicle may be impounded. You may lose your license. 100% liability for any damages or injuries you casued.
You caused an accident with serious injuryUp to $4,000One year in jail, vehicle impounded, loss of license. 100% liability for any damages or injuries you casued.
So, how do you prove you have car insurance in Texas? Your car insurer (be it GEICO, Progressive, State Farm or any other carrier) should have sent you a card after you purchased your policy. Keep this card on you at all times when driving, and present it to a police officer when asked to. If you have not received your card or forgot it at home, these excuses will not matter at the time of your traffic stop. You are required to carry the proof of insurance. The insurance card should include the following:
  • The insured party’s name and address
  • Vehicle year and make
  • Policy renewal dates
  • The insurance company name
  • The insurance policy number
How about if you rent a car? Bring your insurance card with you. Your auto insurance policy follows you, the driver, not your car. Therefore, your personal policy will keep you covered. If you do not own a car, and have no insurance, you should get insurance from the rental car company.
If you don’t have car insurance, you can also present any of the following:
  • A deposit of cash/security with the comptroller. You need to set aside at least $55,000.
  • Surety bond.
  • A deposit of cash or cashier’s check (approved by a County Judge).
  • A certificate of self-insurance. Note this method is really only permitted for companies.

Frequently Asked Questions About Driving Without Insurance in Texas

We collected questions frequently submitted by Texas drivers around this topic. Below are the ones that come up the most often.
Can you go to jail for driving without insurance in Texas? “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.” – The Law Offices of Ted Nelson & Associates.
What happens if you get stopped with no insurance? A police officer will likely issue you a ticket on the spot. If you catch them on a good day, you may get away with just a warning (but don’t count on it). You will also have a penalty placed on your driver license fees. All this is very light. In extreme cases, you can face losing your license and getting your car impounded.
Should I get a lawyer for driving without insurance? That depends on what you can afford. However, if you can afford an attorney, you may have a harder time proving insurance would have an undue hardship on your finances. You can appeal tickets and fines for driving without insurance in Texas. However, to be successful it helps to show you are below the poverty line.
What happens if I get into an accident in Texas and I’m not at fault? Even if you are not at fault for an accident, you are required to have insurance. If you do not have any, you will incur the same penalties.
How many uninsured drivers are there on the road? The Texas Department of Insurance estimates that 20% of all vehicles in Texas are uninsured (that would be about 4 million cars). Here are the stats according to the Insurance Information Institute:
StateUninsured (%)
New Hampshire9.9%
New Jersey14.9%
New Mexico20.8%
New York6.1%
North Carolina6.5%
North Dakota6.8%
Rhode Island15.2%
South Carolina9.4%
South Dakota7.7%
West Virginia10.1%