Driving Without Insurance in Michigan: What You Need To Know
The penalties for driving without insurance in Michigan are the harshest in the nation. Uninsured drivers face fines, driver’s license suspensions and even jail time. If there is a car accident, they cannot sue, even when injured and completely innocent, and they will even have to reimburse the insurance company of the negligent driver.
As I write this today, unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression and COVID cases are hitting all-time records. I know that this issue poses a very difficult dilemma: for too many people, it is literally a choice of paying for car insurance or paying for groceries or rent.
But as painful as this choice can be, the reality is that no one can afford to be driving without insurance in Michigan. This is because Michigan has the harshest and most draconian laws in the entire country. Even before the economy crashed, more people than ever were driving without auto insurance. In cities like Detroit, Flint and Battle Creek, it is estimated that more than 50% of drivers do not have insurance.
But there are incredibly serious penalties for driving without insurance in Michigan. These penalties leave you especially vulnerable if you are ever injured in a serious car accident.
People complain (and rightfully so) about the high cost of car insurance in Michigan. They often ask me: “What’s the harm in driving uninsured?”
Think you cannot afford car insurance? The horrible truth of the matter is you can’t afford to not have Michigan No-Fault auto insurance.
What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Michigan?
The penalty for driving without insurance in Michigan includes: (1) a fine, jail and a driver’s license suspension; (2) being barred from suing an at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation – even if he or she causes severe injuries and you are completely innocent and not at fault; (3) being disqualified from all No-Fault benefits; and (4) personal liability for an at-fault driver’s No-Fault benefits, and for others’ compensation and damages.
Here are the civil and criminal penalties for driving without insurance in Michigan: :
- Guilty of a misdemeanor: If you drive without insurance in Michigan, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. (MCL 500.3102(2))
- Fine of $200 to $500: If you are convicted of driving without insurance in Michigan, you “shall be fined not less than $200.00 nor more than $500.00” and/or sent to jail. (MCL 500.3102(2))
- Jail for up to a one year: If you are convicted of driving without insurance in Michigan, you “shall be . . . imprisoned for not more than 1 year” and/or subject to a fine. (MCL 500.3102(2))
- Suspension of your driver’s license: If a court determines that you were driving with the auto insurance required by the No-Fault law, then – unless you can show that your car or truck is currently insured – your driver’s license will be suspended by the Secretary of State until you get the necessary car insurance. (MCL 257.328(1) and (4)
- The Secretary of State will not renew your plates: If a court determines that you were driving with the auto insurance required by the No-Fault law, then the Secretary of State will not allow you to renew, transfer, replace or to purchase a new registration for your vehicle until you can prove you have auto insurance and you pay a $50 fee. (MCL 257.328(1) and (5); 257.227a(1))
- You cannot sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation: If you were injured in a car accident while driving your own uninsured car or truck, then you cannot sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering damages – even if you were 100% innocent. (MCL 500.3135(1) and (2)(c))
- You will have to pay for your own medical expenses: If you were injured in car accident while driving your own uninsured motor vehicle, then you will be disqualified from recovering No-Fault medical benefits to cover your accident-related medical bills. (MCL 500.3113(b)) You will either have to pay out of pocket or make a claim through your health insurance.
- You will not be reimbursed for lost wages: If you were injured in car accident while driving your own uninsured motor vehicle, then you will be disqualified from recovering No-Fault wage loss benefits to reimburse you for the wages you lose because your injuries have been prevented you from returning to work. (MCL 500.3113(b))
- You will have to pay for your own vehicle damage: If your uninsured car or truck was damaged in a car accident, you will not be able to use the Michigan mini tort law to recover up to $3,000 from the at-fault driver to cover vehicle damage. (MCL 500.3135(3)(e) and (4)(e))
- You could be held personally liable for injuries or death that you caused: If you are driving without insurance in Michigan and you cause a car accident that results in injury to another – or tragically results in someone’s death – then you could be held personally liable for pain and suffering and compensation or wrongful death. Your personal liability stems from the fact that you have no liability insurance which would otherwise provide coverage and protect your and your family’s personal assets from a civil tort judgment.
- You may be forced to have to pay other people’s medical bills: If you are driving your own uninsured vehicle and you are involved in a car accident, then you could be legally required to pay for the medical bills of anyone who was injured – including those of the at-fault driver, even if he or she 100% at-fault, ran a red light, was speeding, drunk, drugged, and texting at the time of car crash. (MCL 500.3177(1)) Failure to pay could result in suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. (MCL 500.3177(1))
- You may have to pay for other people’s lost wages: For the same reasons you may be required to pay for other people’s medical bills, you may be required to pay for their lost wages if you were driving without insurance at the time you were involved in a car accident.
- You may have to pay for other people’s vehicle damage: If you were driving your own uninsured car or truck at the time you caused a car crash that damaged someone else’s vehicle, then the $3,000 limit on mini tort recoveries does not apply and you can be sued for the full value of the vehicle damage.
What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Michigan?
This brings us now to the most draconian part of Michigan’s law – the part that is specifically meant to penalize and punish those driving without insurance. Michigan’s No-Fault law makes an uninsured driver – even one who is completely innocent and who was seriously injured – barred from bringing a lawsuit against a negligent driver and then even makes the uninsured driver financially responsible for everyone else’s medical expenses and lost wages.
In other words, if you are driving your own uninsured car or truck and if you are involved in a car accident that results in injury to another driver, even if that other driver was negligent and caused the car accident, you still have to pay. You will have to reimburse the auto insurance company of the negligent, at-fault driver for whatever they pay out in No-Fault medical and wage loss benefits (and survivor’s loss benefits if someone was killed in the car accident).
This can mean you are potentially liable to following persons and/or their estate, if someone was killed as a result of a car accident:
- Passengers in your vehicle
- Drivers of other vehicles
- Passengers of other vehicles
The law in Michigan quite literally adds insult to injury. You are financially liable to pay to reimburse the auto insurance company for the No-Fault benefits paid to the driver who was at-fault in causing the car accident, even if he or she was 100% at-fault and he or she was drunk or drugged or texting or speeding or driving in the wrong lane or running a red light or all of these things. When I speak at seminars to car accident attorneys in other states, they literally are astonished at just how draconian and punitive the law is in Michigan.
This is why I wrote above that people who think they cannot afford car insurance are the same people who literally can’t afford not to have car insurance.
No driver responsibility fee
Previously, when a person was found guilty of driving without insurance in Michigan, he or was required to pay a $500 driver responsibility fee “for 2 consecutive years.” (MCL 257.732a(2)(b)(iv)) However, the driver responsibility fee requirement was eliminated, starting on March 31, 2018, according to Public Act 50 of 2018. (MCL 257.732a(10)(c))
Can you be arrested for driving without insurance in Michigan?
You can be arrested for driving without insurance, which is a misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail. Warrantless arrests can be made for misdemeanors committed in a police officer’s presence and for those punishable by more than 92 days in jail if there is reasonable cause. (MCL 764.15(1)(a) and (d))
How much is a driving without insurance ticket in Michigan?
If you are convicted of driving without insurance in Michigan, you will be required to pay a fine of at least $200 but not more than $500. (MCL 500.3102(2))
Should I hire a lawyer for driving without insurance in Michigan?
Given the dire legal and financial consequences, my best advice is also the simplest: never drive without insurance in Michigan. However, since most people have no idea how terrible the penalties are for driving without insurance UNTIL AFTER it is too late, and should the circumstances result in your being charged with driving without insurance, I would definitely advise you to hire a lawyer to protect you from criminal and financial liability.
Need help finding a lawyer? Call Michigan Auto Law
Unfortunately, as I wrote above, if you are the owner and operator of your own motor vehicle and injured in a car accident, the law in Michigan will prevent me from helping you.
However, if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident caused by someone driving without insurance, you still have important legal rights including the right to sue and bring a lawsuit for your harms and losses. If you would like to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our injury attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced attorney by emailing [email protected] or you can use the chat feature on our website.