Penalties for Driving as an Uninsured Motorist in California

Robert J. Mandell discusses uninsured motorist laws in California.

Anytime you take your automobile onto the road in California, you’re taking chances. Chances that others will comply with traffic laws, that they will obey speed limits, stop for stop signs, etc. But you also take a chance of being in an accident with an uninsured motorist. As a result, California has developed their own set of severe laws which govern penalties for uninsured motorists.

Every state requires that motorists carry at least minimum established insurance coverages. For California, the minimum requirement for personal injury and death coverage for an individual is at least $15,000. For more than one person, the coverage extends to $30,000. Minimum acceptable coverage for property damage is set at $5,000.

Laws Designed To Be Painful

Like other states, California has more than its fair share of uninsured motorists on the road who put other drivers, and their passengers, at unnecessary financial risk. California’s laws are intended to make it as unpleasant and costly as possible for those who choose to ignore the law.

Upon a first offense conviction, an uninsured motorist can be expected to receive a fine upwards of $200. However, this does not include other penalties that can be assessed under the court’s discretion which can, by themselves, total hundreds of additional dollars. If a subsequent offense has occurred within a three-year period of the first one, the court could impose additional fines totaling $500 or more.

There is also a good possibility that your vehicle will be impounded. While it is up to the decision of the court as to whether or not your vehicle is returned to you, in many cases vehicles remain confiscated. Of course, even if the vehicle is returned, storage and towing fees will have accumulated, adding to your total financial penalty.

Possible Loss of Driving Privilege

An uninsured motorist can also expect his or her driving privileges to be revoked. You may be eligible to have them reinstated after one year if you can provide adequate proof of coverage, but it is possible that your licensee could be revoked for a period of up to four years. When it is reinstated, a re-issuance fee totaling $125 and an SR-22, Proof of Financial Responsibility, will be required.

Anytime an SR-22 is filed with the DMV it automatically categorizes you as a high-risk driver. This translates into considerably higher insurance premiums. Your elevated insurance premiums will continue to remain in effect for years. There is also the possibility that your insurance carrier may consider you to be too high-risk and cancel your policy altogether, making it increasingly difficult to secure coverage elsewhere.

Following the Law Makes the Most Sense

The safest and most responsible thing to do, of course, is to abide by the law and carry at least the required minimum auto coverages. If you have failed to do so, and are involved in an accident, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney. This might save you from some of the more draconian penalties.

If you’re involved in a accident with an uninsured driver, you should consult with an attorney to make sure that your rights and your property are adequately protected under the law.

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Call Robert Mandell for a Free Case Evaluation

Robert Mandell is a personal injury and wrongful death attorney, and lead litigator at The Mandell Law Firm. He is experienced and knowledgeable in all areas of personal injury law, including auto accidents and uninsured motorist incidents. Call him for a free assessment of your claim. It’s important to work with a personal injury attorney who has demonstrated a determination to fight for his clients. Robert Mandell and the team at Mandell Law will fight to protect your rights. To arrange a free consultation, contact Robert Mandell at The Mandell Law Firm in Northridge. 818.886.6600.

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