Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Texas

Senior Man Driving with Dog on his lap
••• Camille Tokerud/Taxi/Getty Images

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—and the consequences can be devastating—no matter how you look at it.

Texas Insurance Requirements

Texas, like other states, requires all drivers to carry a stated minimum of liability coverage. In the Lonestar State, this is $25,000 for property damage, $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident for personal injury). Alternatively, you can choose to demonstrate that you have the ability to pay out these amounts in the event of an accident.

If you purchased your car with a loan, your lender will likely require you to have comprehensive and collision insurance coverage in addition to any legal minimums. Be sure you are aware of any insurance requirements your lender imposes on you.

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 around 20%. Many of these drivers are risking serious consequences.

Driving Without Insurance—First Offense

The first time you get caught driving without valid insurance in Texas, you will be cited and fined between $175 and $350. Until 2019, there was also a surcharge of $250 added to your annual driver’s license fee for each of the next three years after an offense. This law was repealed, however, and all outstanding fees were canceled after Sept. 1, 2019. Now the most you will pay the first time you are caught driving without insurance in Texas is $350. This may not sound like a lot, but it sets you up for even bigger penalties if it happens again.

Additional Offenses

The numbers go up quickly for subsequent convictions. If you are caught driving without insurance an additional time, you will be fined between $350 and $1,000. Repeat offenders also risk having their license revoked and their vehicle impounded. If that happens, you will face a long 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 average cost of liability insurance in Texas in 2017 was $631.22 per year. That's significantly less than the costs that could add up from driving without insurance.

The Real Costs of Driving Uninsured

So far, we have only outlined the immediate legal and financial consequences that will be imposed on you by the State of Texas for driving without insurance. But there are other—potentially far greater—costs if you are at fault in an accident.

In Texas, you can be held 100% liable for any and all physical injuries and property damage resulting from a vehicle accident that you have caused. Depending on the extent of the damage, these can easily reach thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. 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. Rememer, 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. Be sure you talk to your agent and make sure you are covered against legal and financial consequences.

Article Sources

  1. Texas Department of Insurance. "Automobile Insurance Guide." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  2. Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. "TexasSure—Insurance Verification." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  3. Texas State Legislature. "Transportation Code," Sec. 601.191. Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  4. TexasLawHelp.org. "Repeal of the Driver Responsibility Program: Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  5. Texas State Legislature. "Transportation Code," Sec. 601.231. Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  6. Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  7. Nolo. "Texas Car Insurance Requirements." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.