Driving without insurance is against the law in Michigan. There are several different provisions under Michigan law that requires owners or registrants of vehicles to purchase and maintain insurance. The penalties range from being a civil infraction to a criminal misdemeanor. However, the largest ramifications are not criminal, but what can happen if you are somehow involved in an automobile accident.
The Laws and Penalties
The first law against driving without insurance comes from the motor vehicle 257.328(1). This law makes driving without insurance a civil infraction. The fine is nominal but allows the secretary of state to suspend your license for up to 30 days or until the offender provides proof that they have secured insurance on the vehicle. This provision also allows a service fee to be charged of $25.00 for reinstating the license. This charge will be abstracted to your driving record even though it does not carry any points.
The next law against driving without insurance is the more serious of the two offenses. MCL 500.3101–3103 makes it a criminal misdemeanor to have no insurance on your vehicle. This offense is punishable by up to a $500 dollar fine, court costs, and or 1 year in jail. Obviously as a criminal misdemeanor this charge will go on your permanent criminal record.
The Real Problem with Driving Without Car Insurance
Almost everyone knows that you are supposed to have insurance on your car before you can drive it. Even a lot of people are aware that it is against the law and possibly even a misdemeanor not to get auto insurance. However, most people are not aware of the effects of failing to secure auto insurance. Because Michigan is an auto no-fault state, the system requires that everyone get insurance not only to keep premiums down, but to protect themselves in case they get in an accident. Under Michigan law, people who do not have insurance open themselves up to all kinds of risks that insured drivers do not face.
The first risk is not being able to recover the damage to your own vehicle. If you are in an accident and you don’t have insurance, no one is going to pay for the damage to your car or truck. This is true even if someone else caused the accident. You are going to be footing the entire bill yourself.
The next problem is that even if you are seriously injured by a drunk driver or some other jerk that happened to cause the accident, you can not sue for your personal injury. It doesn’t matter if you break a leg, get a traumatic brain injury, or even die as a result of the accident. You will be barred from bringing a lawsuit to collect your damages. This is a serious ramification that many people are not aware of. While it doesn’t seem just to keep you from suing the at fault party simply for failing to pay your insurance or not getting it in the first place, however, because of our no-fault system, this failure can cause disastrous consequences for yourself and for your family.
Finally, if you are in an accident and it is your fault, you can be sued by the other driver, or their insurance company, not only for any injuries that they may have received, but also for the damage to their vehicle. Normally if you had insurance, the other driver could not sue you or your insurance company for damage to their vehicle, however that goes out the window when you fail to by auto insurance. Even if the other driver didn’t have out of pocket expenses to fix their vehicle because their own insurance company paid for the damage, that insurance company can still sue you for reimbursement. This could mean 10’s of thousands of dollars that you owe and can’t get out from underneath.
This same principle applies to injuries caused to other drivers. If you injury another driver, that person or their insurance company can come after you for their medical bills and pain and suffering. This can be catastrophic. Being responsible for another person’s pain and suffering and or medical bills can easily send you in to financial ruin. This is why having insurance is so important in Michigan.
Not withstanding the fact that it’s illegal and practically an invitation to financial devastation not to have car insurance, many Michiganders simply do not buy it. It is estimated that up to 21% of people in Michigan drive without insurance. This is large part due to the expense of auto insurance in Michigan (see my post on this). These people are risking their freedom and their solvency by not buying insurance. Its not worth it.
We Can Help
If you have any questions about your insurance, or if you have caused an accident or are a victim of an uninsured driver, our skilled car accident lawyers can help answer your questions and find ways to help make you whole.