Purchasing automobile insurance is one of your legal duties as a driver in Texas. Everyone who operates a motor vehicle must buy and maintain adequate insurance to stay on the right side of the law. Driving without insurance is a crime in Texas. If the police catch you operating a vehicle without enough insurance, you could face a range of penalties. Jail time, however, is not one of them.
Texas Insurance Requirements
All 50 states have laws requiring drivers to carry certain types and levels of car insurance. Like the majority of states, Texas follows a fault-based car insurance system. All drivers must carry insurance to cover damages if they cause car accidents. The at-fault party’s insurance policy will pay for medical bills, property damage repairs and other losses after a collision. For this reason, all drivers must carry at least the minimum required amounts of insurance.
- $30,000 for bodily injury liability per individual. Pays for medical bills for one person in an accident.
- $60,000 for bodily injury liability per accident. Pays for the medical bills of all involved parties in an accident.
- $25,000 for property damage liability. Pays for up to $25,000 in vehicle repairs after a collision.
If you do not own your vehicle outright, your lease or loan provider may require collision and comprehensive coverage as well. These are additional types of insurance that can cover your damages for any reason – even if you caused the accident or if an act of God damaged your property. You may purchase optional types of insurance for additional coverage at any time in Texas.
What Is Proof of Insurance?
As a driver, you must maintain at least the minimum required amounts of auto insurance at all times to obey Texas’ laws. You must also carry proof of insurance in your vehicle or on your person when you drive. Keeping a copy of your insurance card in your glove compartment, wallet or an electronic version on your phone can fulfill this requirement.
An officer will have the right to request to see proof of auto insurance during a traffic stop or after a car accident. You will also need to show proof to the Department of Motor Vehicles before you can register your vehicle, renew the registration, get your driver’s license or undergo a vehicle inspection.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
If you have insurance but failed to have proof with you during a traffic stop, you could receive a ticket and a fine. If a police officer discovers that you do not have insurance at all – or that the insurance you have does not meet Texas’ required minimums – you could face more serious penalties. Going to jail, however, is not a penalty you could face for driving uninsured.
- Citation and fines. A traffic ticket for driving without insurance can cost between $175 and $350 to resolve as a first-time offender. You will also have to pay an additional $250 each year for three years as an annual driver’s license fee. This increases the total costs to $925 to $1,100.
- Additional fines. You could pay a fine between $350 and $1,000 (plus the annual $250) for a second or subsequent offense.
- License revocation. If you continue to drive without insurance, becoming a repeat offender could result in license revocation and vehicle impoundment.
You cannot go to jail for driving without insurance in Texas. Should you cause a car accident while uninsured, however, you could end up personally liable for the other party’s damages. A lawsuit against you could force you to pay for the victim’s vehicle repairs and medical expenses out of pocket. It is up to you as a driver in Texas to purchase the correct types of insurance and to maintain it at all times if you wish to avoid penalties.