Carrying auto insurance is one of your main responsibilities as a driver in Texas. Legally, you cannot get behind the wheel of a vehicle until you have purchased adequate car insurance. Insurance requirements protect all roadway users in case of car accidents. After a collision in Texas, it will be the at-fault party’s responsibility to take care of everyone else’s bills. He or she will generally do so using an insurance policy. Driving without insurance in Texas is an infraction that could result in serious penalties.
What are Texas’ Insurance Requirements?
Knowing how much car insurance you need in Texas is the first step toward becoming a safe and responsible driver. If you are new to Texas or purchasing your first vehicle, you will need to buy and maintain at least the state’s minimum required amounts of insurance. All states are different in the amounts and types of car insurance they require their drivers to carry. The state of Texas uses a 30/60/25 coverage system.
- $30,000 in bodily injury coverage per person
- $60,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 in property damage liability
Allowing your coverage to lapse is against the law in Texas. If you get into a car accident during a lapse in coverage, you could be personally liable for victims’ losses. You must carry proof of financial responsibility at all times while driving. Even if you have insurance, if a police officer asks for your proof of insurance and you cannot provide it, you could receive a traffic ticket. The courts may waive the fee, however, if you can show proof of insurance later.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
While many drivers opt to carry more insurance than the minimum required amounts, this is not mandatory. To avoid legal penalties, you must only carry the minimum amounts. If you drive without insurance in Texas, you could face penalties. Although driving without insurance is not a crime, it is a traffic infraction. You could face between $175 and $350 in fines for a first-time driving without insurance offense. In addition, your annual driver’s license fee will go up by $250 each year for the following three years.
For a subsequent offense, you could face an initial fine between $300 and $1,000 on top of the $250 surcharge for three years. As a repeat insurance offender, you may also face a revoked driver’s license and vehicle impoundment. You will have to pay out of pocket to retrieve your vehicle and reinstate your driver’s license after you show proof of vehicle insurance. The state may also require you to fill out an SR-22 form to ensure you maintain insurance.
One of the most daunting consequences of driving without insurance in Texas is facing 100% liability for victims’ damages out of your pocket. A judge may take steps such as garnishing your wages until you have paid off a victim’s medical expenses and/or property damage repairs after an accident you caused. The victim will have the right to bring a civil lawsuit against you as the at-fault driver in Texas. This could lead to significant legal fees and restitution you might owe the victim.
What to Do After a Collision With an Uninsured Driver
If you are not the uninsured driver, but someone in an accident with an uninsured driver, you have rights. Once you find out the person that caused your wreck does not have insurance, call the police. The police can hold the at-fault party responsible for driving without insurance, issuing a citation and possibly revoking the driver’s license. Then, seek compensation through your own insurance provider.
With uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance in Texas, your insurance company should cover your damages after a collision with an uninsured driver. Since this is not a required type of insurance in Texas, however, you may not carry it on your policy. Contact your insurance company to ask whether you have this coverage after a collision. If not, your other option for recovery may be a personal injury lawsuit. Bringing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver could hold him or her personally accountable for your damages. Work with a San Antonio personal injury attorney for assistance with cases involving uninsured drivers.