It is illegal to drive in Texas without the minimum amount of required liability auto insurance. If you are in a car accident with no insurance in Texas, the police will likely give you a ticket. They may have your car towed or ask you to arrange for someone with proof of insurance to drive it away from the scene. Some municipalities also have ordinances that allow police to impound your vehicle. If this occurs, you will need to pay a fee and show proof of insurance to get your car back.
Are There Criminal Penalties for Driving Without Insurance?
Most people who are in an accident and have no insurance will at least receive a ticket from police and have to pay a fine. Even on your first offense, driving without insurance carries penalties, including fines of up to $350. If you have a prior offense, your fine could be as high as $1,000. The state may also suspend your license as long as two years as a part of your sentence for a repeat offense.
It is important to note that you could also face other charges associated with the accident if you were at fault or contributed to the crash, no matter if you have insurance or not. In most cases, these should only be minor traffic violations. For example, you might get a ticket and have to pay a fine for failure to yield if you turned left in front of oncoming traffic. You might get a similar ticket if you ran a red light or were speeding.
In some circumstances, you could face much more serious criminal charges related to the accident. For example, if police believe you were driving in a reckless manner and someone died as a result of the crash, you might face charges of vehicular manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. If you caused an accident due to drunk driving (DWI), you will also face serious criminal consequences. This could happen regardless of your insurance status.
What Are the Other Consequences of Driving With No Insurance?
The Texas Transportation Code Chapter 708 authorizes additional administrative fees for people who commit certain offenses, including driving without insurance. The state will add a maximum surcharge of $250 per year to the fees you pay for your driver’s license renewal for the three years following your ticket.
In addition, you can expect your insurance rates to increase when you apply for coverage. Even a first offense will cause the price of auto liability coverage to go up in many cases.
What Is the Required Minimum Liability Coverage in Texas?
Texas has a financial responsibility law that requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto liability insurance. This type of coverage pays out to cover the medical care, vehicle repairs, and other damages victims suffer in a car crash. In Texas, this coverage includes:
- $30,000 for each injured victim;
- $60,000 per accident; and
- $25,000 for property damage.
Many companies offer low-cost policies to help motorists get and maintain this amount of liability coverage. Financially, it makes a lot more sense to pay for insurance than to deal with the cost of a ticket and the additional fees related to driving without insurance.
What Are the Risks of Driving Without Insurance in Texas?
Texas has a fault-based auto insurance system, meaning the victim of an accident can hold the person who caused it fully liable for the injuries, property damage, and other losses they suffered. After an accident, the injured parties generally file a claim based on the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy. The insurance company then pays out to cover their damages.
If you do not have auto insurance to cover the accident victims, you may face a personal injury lawsuit. Crash victims have the right to hold you responsible for their financial losses. If they choose, they can take you to court and ask a judge to force you to pay them from your own bank account or by liquidating assets.
Not carrying auto insurance can also pose a problem if the other driver caused the accident. While a lack of insurance does not make you liable for the wreck, you can expect the insurance company and the at-fault driver to say you acted negligently and without regard to your legal responsibilities. This could reduce your payout in some situations.
How Can I Talk to a Texas Car Accident Attorney About My Crash?
If you have questions about getting the financial recovery you deserve after a Texas car accident, the team from D. Miller & Associates, PLLC, can help. We can offer support and guidance, and explain the strength of your case against the at-fault driver. Call us today at 713-850-8600 for a free case review and consultation.