What Is the Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in Ohio?

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With the exception of New Hampshire, all states require drivers to carry insurance. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) imposes civil penalties on vehicle owners and drivers to ensure that they comply with this law. Repeat violators face stiffer penalties, which include losing their vehicle and not being able to register a new one for five years.

Financial Responsibility for Drivers in Ohio

If a driver can't provide proof of insurance when a law enforcement officer asks for it, or Ohio’s electronic database flags them for not having it, the driver receives a notice from the state. It is illegal to drive without proof of financial responsibility in Ohio.

Individuals cannot drive someone else's car without proof of insurance. All drivers in Ohio must have insurance or obtain a bond.

When purchasing insurance, Ohio requires the following:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage.
  • Motor vehicle liability insurance for which insurer will issue cards to driver.
  • Certificate of proof of financial responsibility.

Financial Minimums for Coverage in Ohio

There are required insurance minimums for drivers in Ohio:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $25,000 per person injured in a car accident and $50,000 for all people injured in an accident.
  • Property damage liability coverage: $25,000 for destruction of, or injury to, property resulting from an accident.

The Ohio Department of Insurance suggests that the value of a driver’s assets may help determine how much coverage they should have. Additional coverage can help protect the driver and their assets if they are involved in a serious accident.

Penalties for No Car Insurance in Ohio

If a driver cannot provide proof of insurance coverage to law enforcement during a traffic stop or an accident scene when requested, their driver's license, license plates and vehicle registration will be temporarily suspended and won’t be reinstated until they prove that they have coverage.

The driver will pay $160 to get back their license plates. This represents a fee of $100 for reinstatement, $50 compliance fee and $10 registrar service fee. Vehicle registration can be restored only after the driver pays the requisite reinstatement fees and their insurance carrier files an SR-22 form on their behalf, which stays on file for up to five years.

If the driver violates the terms of their suspension, they will see immobilization of their vehicle and lose their license plates for 30 days.

Second- and Third-offense Penalties

If a driver is caught driving uninsured within five years of their first offense, their license will be suspended for an entire year, but they may get limited driving privileges after 15 days. The driver will pay $360 to get back their license plates. This represents a fee of $300 for reinstatement, $50 compliance fee, and $10 registrar service fee.

If the driver violates the suspension terms, they will see immobilization of their vehicle and lose their license plates for 60 days.

If an individual gets caught driving uninsured three or more times within five years after their first offense, their license will be suspended for two years, but they may get limited driving privileges after 30 days. The driver will pay $360 to get back their license plates. This is broken down into a fee of $600 for reinstatement, $50 compliance fee and $10 registrar service fee.

If the driver violates the license suspension terms, they will lose their vehicle to the state, which will then sell it. They will be unable to register another vehicle for five years.

Penalties for Accidents and Driving Without Car Insurance Coverage

If a driver without insurance is involved in a traffic accident, and the damage is $400 or more, the Ohio BMV may suspend the offender’s driving privileges for at least two years and impose an indefinite suspension until the judgment is settled.

If the uninsured driver doesn't have enough money to compensate victims, the court can garnish the offender’s wages or attach a judgment to their assets. Victims can recover damages for loss of wages, disability, medical needs, pain and suffering, property damage, punitive damage and out-of-pocket expenses.

Alternatives to Vehicle Insurance Policies in Ohio

If a driver doesn’t carry insurance, they can obtain a BMV-issued certificate stating that they have money or government bonds in a $30,000 deposit with the Treasurer of the State of Ohio’s office. They can also get a BMV-issued certificate for $30,000 signed by two real estate owners who own properties with equity of at least $60,000.

A BMV-issued self-insurance certificate for individuals with more than 25 vehicles registered in their name or a business’ name is another option, as is a $30,000 bond from a surety or insurance company. All of these options must be properly applied for and approved.

Providing False Insurance Information

It’s not a wise choice for a driver to provide false information declaring auto insurance that doesn’t exist, as the state has strict insurance fraud laws. Under Ohio law, insurance fraud includes:

  • Filing a claim for a nonexistent loss.
  • Filing a claim for damages unrelated to the loss.
  • Filing a claim for damages that the owner deliberately caused to their own vehicle.
  • Inflating a theft claim by exaggerating a vehicle’s value.
  • Lying about addresses, driving records, vehicles or other insurance application details.
  • Working with a medical practitioner to file fake medical claims with an insurance carrier.

If a person is caught committing insurance fraud, they face a first-degree misdemeanor charge. If the amount of the false claim is between $1,000 to $7,500, they face a fifth-degree felony charge; between $7,500 to $150,000 the charge is a fourth-degree felony, and any amount over $150,000 is a third-degree felony.