Q: I got pulled over and thought I had a valid insurance card at the time. It turns out my policy had actually been canceled. What can happen and what are the laws regarding driving without insurance?
A: In California, you must have car insurance that covers you when you’re driving any car. If a police officer stops you, you must show proof of insurance. Failing to show proof of financial responsibility, meaning insurance coverage, is a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 16029. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d07/vc16029.htm. Violating this code could result in fines up to $500 plus penalties, impoundment of the vehicle and suspension of the driver’s license. If the vehicle is impounded the owner will have to pay for all storage and tow charges as well.
If you have insurance but don’t have proof to show the officer, you’ll be charged with an infraction for driving without proof of insurance and must provide proof of your insurance to the court and pay a fee.
If you don’t have insurance, you must buy it. Then, provide your proof of the insurance to the court and pay a fine. The consequences can be far more serious if you are involved in an accident and do not have insurance. You may have to comply with the financial responsibility laws (SR22, SR22s, SR16), including having to pay for any injuries or damages from the accident out of your own pocket.
Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.
Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian