Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Florida

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As a Florida resident, when was the last time you said, “Wow, the cost of (fill in the blank) sure has come down. In fact, it’s getting to where it’s downright inexpensive.” Probably never, right? Name the subject. Gas, groceries, rent, healthcare, education. It doesn’t matter, everything is expensive. The problem is, you need all of those things to survive, so you just keep paying the price and looking for other places to cut back.

 How about this? Dropping your auto insurance. It’s not like food or shelter. I mean, it’s not absolutely, positively necessary, is it? The problem is, though, that driving without it in Florida can end up costing you a lot more than your monthly insurance bill. In fact, the penalties for driving without insurance in Florida are, you guessed it, expensive.

Florida Insurance Requirements.

Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state. Under both its Financial Responsibility and No-Fault laws, vehicle owners are required to carry the minimum amounts of $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL) and $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP). You must have coverage in place before you obtain your registration and tags, and you must continue to carry it throughout the registration period. If you intend to drop your insurance, for any reason, you are required to surrender your plates before the insurance expires.

 If you do not and your insurance lapses, then…

Penalties in Florida for a first time offender with no insurance.

Upon the lapse of your Florida auto policy, your insurance carrier is required by law to immediately notify the state. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will in turn notify you to provide proof of new coverage.

 If you fail to provide this new proof, your license, plates and registration will be suspended for up to three years. Once this suspension is in place, you will have to provide the state with proof of a new policy and pay a fee of $150 to have your license, plates and registration reinstated.

By the way, that proof of insurance has to show that you had new insurance in place before the old policy was canceled. If not, your license, plates, and registration will be suspended, even if the period of the lapse is one day! In other words, if you were intending to save a little money by going without insurance for a month or two, it’s not going to work.

Subsequent offenses for lack of insurance.

Subsequent offenses are more expensive. If your insurance lapses for a second time within three years of the first lapse, the reinstatement fee increases to $250. For a third offense within three years, the reinstatement fee goes up to $500.

A few other things to keep in mind.

When you first obtain your insurance, your provider will issue you a Florida Insurance I.D. card. You must be ready, at all times that you are operating your vehicle, to show it to any law enforcement officer who asks to see it.

 If you are asked and do not have it, you may be ticketed. 

Also, if your driver’s license or license plates have been suspended for not obeying the Financial Responsibility or No-Fault laws, you cannot obtain a temporary replacement license for any reason, even for work purposes.

Finally, anyone who makes a false statement or commits forgery in regard to their vehicle insurance may be found guilty of committing a second-degree misdemeanor.

Everything you’ve just read is small potatoes.

That’s right. Everything you’ve just read about losing your license and the costs involved in getting it back is meaningless compared to this: What if you don’t have insurance and get into an accident?  We all know that an automobile accident can cause very serious and very expensive personal injuries. Hospital costs alone could wipe out the assets of even the most well-off of drivers.

 And don’t think because Florida is a no-fault state that you will automatically be off the hook when it comes to paying for the injuries to others. In Florida, you can still be sued for the costs of “serious” injuries that you cause as a result of a vehicle accident.

At the end of the day, canceling your auto insurance is no way to save. In Florida, the penalties for driving without insurance pretty much guarantee that, not only will you fail to save money by dropping your policy, you will likely end up paying more. And that’s no way to survive.]

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