Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Texas
Life is full of risks. Some are worth taking, some are not. Like jumping out of an airplane. You take a class, then climb onto the plane, strap on your parachute and… jump! However, you did your research, considered the consequences and decided it was a risk worth taking. But here’s the question: Would you have jumped without the chute?
Some people take the risk of driving without insurance. If you do so in Texas, though, your risk may be a lot like jumping without a chute. The penalties are harsh no matter how you look at it.
Simply Getting Caught Without Insurance
Texas, like other states, requires all drivers to carry a stated minimum of liability coverage ($25,000 for property damage, $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident for personal injury). And although most drivers in Texas comply with the law and carry at least these legal minimums, many do not. Some estimates put the percentage of uninsured drivers in Texas at between 20 and 25 percent. Here is what will happen if you are caught as a member of that group:
First Time Offense
The first time you get caught driving without valid insurance in Texas, you will probably get off pretty lightly, at least compared with other states. That is, of course, if you consider the following getting off lightly. First-time offenders will, by law, be cited and fined between $175 and $350. Additionally, a surcharge of $250 will be added to your annual driver’s license fee for each of the next three years. Added up, getting caught driving without insurance in Texas the first time will end up costing you between $925 and $1100.
The numbers go up quickly for subsequent convictions. If you are caught driving without insurance for an additional time, you will be fined between $350 and $1000. And you will still have to pay that additional $250 surcharge on your license for at least three years. There’s more. Repeat offenders also risk having their license revoked and their vehicle impounded. If that happens, you will face a long hard (and expensive) battle to get your license reinstated and your car back.
So, if you have been keeping track, the costs of driving without insurance in Texas have gone from hundreds to possibly thousands of dollars in fines, fees, and additional expenses. Compare these numbers to the cost of actually keeping your policy up-to-date and suddenly dropping your insurance doesn’t seem like such a good idea.
The first part of the post only outlines the financial and other consequences that will be imposed on you by the State of Texas for driving without insurance. What has not been mentioned is the devastating costs you will face if you get into an accident that is your fault. In Texas, you can be held 100 percent liable for any and all physical injuries and property damage resulting from a vehicle accident that you have caused. Think of what those costs could be: thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe more. An uninsured driver could see a lifetime of accumulated assets disappear in an instant.
The Bottom Line
Now it is time to ask yourself if saving a little money per month by dropping your auto insurance is worth the risk. I suppose it’s also time to bring back the parachute analogy. Driving without insurance in Texas is a bit like jumping from a plane without a chute. If you do it, you are bound to crash. Proper coverage is an inexpensive way to protect yourself in case of unforeseen accidents.