Driving in Ohio without valid car insurance or without proof of financial responsibility is illegal. Penalties for this offense are serious and may vary according to the circumstances.
The consequences, however, will compound if you are involved in an accident where you are at fault, and you are not carrying vehicle insurance. Most law firms will not even take your case if you end up in this situation.
Motor Vehicle Insurance Laws in Ohio
According to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) in Ohio, car insurance laws in the state require a driver to submit proof of liability insurance at the time of registering the vehicle. You will have to keep proof of continuous car insurance throughout the period of registration. As a car owner in Ohio with a vehicle registered in your name, your minimum requirements for continuous car insurance are $25,000 for injury or death of one person in one accident; $50,000 for injury or death of more than one person in one accident; and $25,000 for other people’s property damage in one accident.
Insurance Requirements for a Leased Car
In Ohio, the ownership of a leased car does not belong to you as long as you are making payments for it.
Your lender will require the leased vehicle is fully covered by insurance. If you do not purchase the requisite coverage, the lender will issue a warning to you and then arrange a car insurance policy in your name for the leased vehicle. In this situation, the policy will be of the lender’s choice, which may not be the policy you want.
Insurance Requirements for Your Own Car
If your car is without any lien, you are free to choose the amount of insurance coverage you need. In this case, full coverage is not mandatory, and only the minimum coverage requirements as per the law must be fulfilled.
Penalties in Ohio for Driving without Vehicle Insurance
If the BMV in Ohio determines that you were driving your car without having valid insurance, a range of penalties will be imposed on you. These include a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license, reinstatement fees, and, in some cases, imprisonment. Enforcement of your insurance status can occur by way of verifying your insurance proof during a traffic stop, random inspections by the Ohio Registrar of Motor Vehicles, and any traffic court appearances. The Financial Responsibility law in Ohio requires you to prove your ability to be responsible for a car accident that may occur because of your fault. This is accomplished by carrying continuous liability insurance for the minimum amounts specified
under the law.
If during a traffic stop, the police officer finds that you are uninsured at the moment, you will be issued a notice informing you how you can submit such proof. You can do this by sending the proof as per the BMV’s request, providing a copy of the proof while paying the fine, and carrying the proof with you during a traffic court appearance.
If you fail to respond to the BMV’s Notice of Suspension, your driving and registration privileges will be suspended. On top of this, if your car is towed, you will be required to pay for the towing and storage costs. Other penalties that could be imposed for driving without car insurance in Ohio include:
- Suspension of driving privileges for up to two years
- Suspension of vehicle registration and license plates
- Reinstatement fee ranges between $150 and $650
- Confiscation of plates and vehicle immobilization for 30 to 60 days in case of a violation of the suspension
- Additional violations could result in car registration suspension for 5 years as well as vehicle forfeiture
Penalties for a Second Offense
If you are convicted of a second offense of driving uninsured within five years of the previous one, it will result in the suspension of your driver’s license for one year. However, limited driving privileges may be granted by the court 15 days after the suspension begins.
License plates and registration suspension will continue until you have paid the reinstatement fee of $360 for the second offense. If you violate the suspension for a second time, it will result in your license plates getting confiscated and your vehicle immobilized for 60 days.
Penalties for Subsequent Offenses
If you are convicted of a third offense or subsequent offenses within five years of the earlier violation, it will lead to suspension of your driver’s license for two years. However, limited driving privileges may be granted by the court 30 days after the suspension begins.
License plates and registration suspension will continue until you have paid the reinstatement fee of $660 for the third or subsequent offense. If you violate the suspension for a third or subsequent time, you will not be able to register a vehicle in your name in Ohio for 5 years, and your car will be forfeited and sold.
Requirement of SR-22 Insurance Documents in Ohio
If you have been convicted of driving uninsured in Ohio, you will need to file SR-22 insurance documents. The BMV may require you to file these documents for three years, showing your proof of financial responsibility. This requirement is generally imposed after your driving privileges have been restored.
If a Car Crash Occurs due to Your Fault and You are Without Insurance
The biggest risk of driving without car insurance in Ohio is when you are involved in a car crash that was your fault, and it results in personal injury to another motorist or a pedestrian. Most attorneys will not even take your case in this hopeless situation.
Ohio is a “tort state,” which means the at-fault driver in an accident is liable to pay for the damages suffered by the victim. The victim can sue the uninsured at-fault driver to recover both economic and non-economic damages, including medical expenses, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Once the court holds you liable for the damages, they may require you to make the payment to the victim in installments or may order a garnishing of your wages to fulfill the payment requirements.
The tort law in Ohio will still apply if a car crash occurred due to another driver’s fault. The at-fault party will be liable to pay you the rightful damages you have suffered, irrespective of the fact that you were driving without insurance. You are free to pursue a claim of liability insurance as well as a personal injury claim against the defendant.
However, you will still have to bear the legal consequences of your violation of the insurance requirements.
The statute of limitations in Ohio gives you a time period of two years from the date of the occurrence of a car accident to claim damages from the at-fault party. Once this time limit is exhausted, you are barred from filing a claim. Therefore, it is in your interest to act fast and consult with a personal injury lawyer regarding your claim.
Speak to an Experienced Ohio Personal Injury Attorney Now!
If you are involved in an accident but do not have car insurance, your best chance is to get the experienced personal injury lawyers at Slater & Zurz LLC on your side.
We will help you recover the maximum compensation if you suffered injuries in a car accident due to another’s fault. Our legal team is ready to take on your case. Call now and speak with a car accident attorney at 1-888-534-4850 to schedule a free consultation, or contact us online.