What Are the Risks of Driving Without Insurance in Illinois?

Illinois state law requires that you buy an insurance policy for any motor vehicle you want to register and drive. In fact, beginning in 2020, the Secretary of State began a program to ensure vehicle registration by an electronic system, which now is being run with the help of several large insurance companies in the state of Illinois. This crackdown on vehicle registration has also caused parallel attention on the Mandatory Insurance Law (625 ILCS 5/7-601). Auto insurance is certainly required in the state of Illinois. Some people let their insurance policy lapse to save money. Others forget to send the payment. So, what happens when you are caught without insurance?

The Consequences for Driving Without Auto Insurance in Illinois

Motor vehicle insurance coverage is mandatory. If you are pulled over for any reason, the police officer is required to ask you to show proof of insurance. Additionally, you must provide evidence of it when you register your vehicle, and again any time a police officer pulls you over. Failing to carry valid insurance is a violation of state law. So what happens when you are unable to hand it over, and are caught driving without insurance?

When an officer pulls you over and you can’t prove that you have insurance, they will fine you at least $500. They will also suspend your license plate. If you have already had your license plates suspended, the minimum fine increases to $1,000. This means that you can no longer legally drive your car, but it does not remove your driving privileges. You could, for example, continue to drive cars that are correctly insured.

In order to start driving your car again, you must do two things. First, you have to purchase valid insurance for your vehicle. Second, you will have to pay a reinstatement fee of $100. This can be done right away, so you won’t have to lose much time off of the road. However, if you are a repeat offender, in addition to the reinstatement fee of $100, you are required to fulfill a 4 month suspension.

It’s important to note that repeat offenders and those who cause car crashes while they don’t have insurance can expect bigger penalties. If you cause property damage or a bad accident, you could be facing more than just suspension or penalties for driving. Causing a crash without insurance could also mean facing a civil lawsuit if there is damage to the other driver’s vehicle or if someone gets hurt, which could result in jail time.

What Is the Minimum Required Insurance in Illinois?

The state requires liability insurance coverage. You need at least $20,000 worth of coverage in case you damage someone else’s property.

You also need a minimum of $25,000/$50,000 in bodily injury coverage. That coverage will pay up to $25,000 for someone’s injuries and $50,000 per crash if multiple people get hurt. Those are the basics you must carry, but you can pay for extra insurance if you want.

How Much Does Auto Insurance Cost in Illinois?

If you only buy the least amount of coverage to legally drive, you will probably spend around $440 a year on insurance. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average car insurance cost annually in Illinois is $1,325. Car insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense if you are a safe driver. You have to spend hundreds of dollars to pay for something you assume you will never need.

What is SR-22 (Financial Responsibility) Insurance?

Required SR-22 insurance was put in place to make it easier to identify those who are considered high risk drivers, or problem drivers, and is requested through your own insurance company as additional coverage. According to the Illinois Department Secretary of State, “Financial Responsibility Insurance is required in Illinois for individuals with safety responsibility suspensions, unsatisfied judgment suspensions, revocations, mandatory insurance supervisions and individuals who receive three or more convictions for mandatory insurance violations.”

This insurance is in addition to your auto insurance. There are three different forms you may use to file for SR-22, an operator’s certificate, owner’s certificate, or operators-owners certificate. If you call into the category of a problem driver, and do not take our financial responsibility insurance, you will lose your driver’s license. Driver’s must also keep track of their SR-22 renewal. In the event this insurance expires before the required amount of time, your insurance company has a legal obligation to let the authorities know.

Traffic Infractions Can Affect Your Life

A citation for driving without insurance won’t just cost you money. It will also affect your ability to keep driving. Losing your license can affect your job and your education. Sometimes, drivers don’t have proof of insurance but can show the court that they had a policy active at the time of the traffic stop. These individuals may be able to go to court and fight the fines and citations.

In addition, the penalties for driving without SR-22 insurance can be even more extreme. When you understand the laws about insurance for vehicles in Illinois, it’s easier to respond to a recent alleged traffic violation. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with traffic law today.