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Unless you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, laws require insurance coverage on every car on the road. In those two states, drivers can prove financial responsibility another way. But what about a recently purchased car? Can you drive a new vehicle home from the dealership with no car insurance?

The trouble you’ll face if you drive with no car insurance

new car, no insurance
2006 Mini Cooper | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

The car-buying process can be complicated. And qualifyig for a loan to purchase a vehicle can be downright grueling. Simplify your life by having an insurance policy before buying a car.

When you test-drive a vehicle, it’s covered by the dealer’s insurance policy. But once you purchase that car, you’d better have it insured before you drive it off the lot. If you don’t, and you get stopped by a cop. And if you got into a car accident, the full weight of the law could come down on you hard.

Virtually every dealership requires proof of insurance before allowing a car off the lot. Having a policy in place might solve the issue, but only for a little while. According to ValuePenguin, most insurance carriers allow a current policy to similarly cover a new purchase for up to two weeks.

Penalties for driving with no car insurance vary from state to state, according to Access Auto Insurance. For instance, California drivers who get caught without auto insurance could face fines of $100 to $200. If you’re involved in an accident while driving uninsured in that state, and you could lose your driver’s license for four years.

Every state except New Hampshire and Virginia imposes hefty fines on uninsured drivers. Some states, including Vermont, North Carolina, Missouri, Maryland, and Colorado, also add penalty points to the uninsured driver’s license. Wrack up enough of those points, and you could lose your right to drive.

Possible jail time for driving with no car insurance

To maintain a civilized society, everyone must do their part. Uninsured and underinsured drivers force insurance companies to raise rates, and that’s not fair to anyone. That’s why some states send uninsured drivers to jail.

Here’s the rundown on how long a person could spend in jail if they’re caught driving with no car insurance, per CarInsurance:

  • Alaska, 90 days
  • Connecticut, 90 days
  • Georgia, 1 year
  • Kansas, 6 months
  • Kentucky, 90 days
  • Louisiana, 30 days
  • Maryland, 6 months
  • Massachusetts, 1 year
  • Michigan, 1 year
  • Minnesota, 90 days
  • Missouri, 15 days
  • Montana, 10 days
  • Nebraska, 6 months
  • New York, 15 days
  • Oklahoma, 30 days
  • South Dakota, 30 days
  • Washington D.C., 90 days
  • West Virginia, 15 days to 1 year
  • Wyoming, 6 months

In Colorado and New Jersey, uninsured drivers could be sentenced to community service.

The police can tell whether your vehicle is insured

Since 2020, law enforcement officials have been able to access technology that lets them take a photo of your license plate and submit it to a state database. Computerized and quick, automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) cameras can even advise officers if your insurance policy has expired.

Save yourself hefty fines, license points, and possible jail time by maintaining adequate car insurance on every vehicle you own, including any you’re driving home for the first time. Insurance may be costly, but it’s vital to being a responsible driver.


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