Have you received a citation for “Driving an Uninsured Vehicle in Maryland?” Seek legal representation for your local traffic violations here at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice. Speak with a traffic ticket lawyer today by calling (410) 694-7291.
Driving “uninsured” is a common citation received by Baltimore and Maryland drivers. Most of the time, the defendant had no idea that their car does not have insurance. For example, you borrow your friend’s car to go to the store or he/she lets you have it for the weekend. You get pulled over and there is no insurance on the vehicle. This would not be the case if you carried your own insurance. If you are going to drive in Maryland, ensure you have insurance for the vehicle you are operating.
What is the penalty for driving uninsured in Maryland?
Unfortunately, if you get pulled over without insurance, you are now facing a 5 point violation (assessed to your driving record) and up to one year in jail. What if you didn’t know the car you were driving did not have insurance?
In Maryland, knowledge is not a defense to driving an uninsured vehicle. You are supposed to inquire as to whether or not the car has insurance BEFORE you drive it. Who does that? Virtually no one, but you could still be held liable for the offense.
From our own personal experience as Baltimore, Maryland traffic violation lawyers, most of these cases work out well. That’s the good news. However, each situation is different and you should consult with a Maryland traffic violations lawyer if you are charged with driving an uninsured vehicle in Maryland.
YES, DRIVING UNINSURED IS A CRIME IN MARYLAND
REALLY, IN MARYLAND?
It sure it is. It’s a misdemeanor crime, not just a traffic offense. Driving without insurance means you loss the right to have your vehicle registered. There are fines of course (up to a $1,000 for a first offense) but most importantly driving uninsured could mean being sentenced to a year in jail for the first offense and up to two years in jail if it is a second offense.
Your case will be held before a Judge in one of the District Courts of Maryland or in a County Circuit Court. Unlike a speeding ticket, where you can just pay a ticket fine and end it there.
With a must appear driving uninsured ticket, you will be required to show up for your trial and if you don’t come on the day of trial for your driving while uninsured charges, you could be held in contempt of Court (bench warrant), which means arrested and put in jail until the next date they can schedule your trial.
GREAT. WHAT ELSE COULD HAPPEN FOR NOT HAVING CAR INSURANCE IN MARYLAND?
In addition, uninsured vehicle owner could face penalties even if they don’t drive the MVA lists the following negative consequences:
- Lose license plates and vehicle registration privileges.
- Pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance – $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter.
- Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle’s registration.
- Be prohibited from registering any future vehicles until all vehicle insurance violations are cleared.
- Be prohibited from renewing a suspended registration until all vehicle insurance violations are cleared.
- Have license plates confiscated by an authorized tag recovery agent, once a registration suspension is in effect.
- Pay a fine of up to $1,000 and/or one-year imprisonment for providing false evidence of vehicle insurance( that’s in addition to one year in jail and $1000- fine you could get for driving an uninsured vehicle).
Seeking representation from a Maryland traffic violations attorney at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice may be important for this offense since your case is more than a simple traffic case like a speeding ticket.
ANYTHING ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT? CAN I GET POINTS ON MY DRIVING RECORD?
You can be assessed five points on your record for driving an uninsured vehicle. Five points on your record also means the Judge could require you to take a Driver Improvement Program. By the way, if you think you can only get one ticket for driving insured, you are wrong.
If you drive in an uninsured car after previously getting a ticket, that could be another five points on your records. In addition time in jail goes up to two years and the fine also goes up to $2000.
Often your car will be impounded right on the spot when you get your ticket issued if there is no valid car registration. That means you will also need to pay that fee even to have the car released back to you. Again, this is a serious situation where you need to strongly consider getting a lawyer.
CAN I BE FOUND GUILTY IF I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW I WAS UNINSURED?
Being found guilty of driving without insurance does not require you knowing that your insurance was cancelled, your policy payment wasn’t received or that you didn’t know you needed insurance in Maryland.
Even If the insurance company made a mistake by failing to process your policy after you made a payment, you will still be held liable for driving an uninsured vehicle. You can even borrow someone’s car thinking it was insured when it was not and still face criminal penalties.
In Maryland, ignorance is not a defense to driving an uninsured vehicle. However, while lack of knowledge of driving an uninsured vehicle may not keep you from being found guilty, it may go to helping you at sentencing.
The trial judge has wide discretion as to what penalties and fines to assess. He could even decide to give you probation before judgment, which could keep you driving and criminal record clear. It may even come down the mood of the judge on the day as to what the decision will be.
Having an attorney familiar with the legal process may make a big difference in on the outcome you receive once you have your date in court.
You’ll need to bring the documents and evidence that supports your argument, no matter how you proceed which may include policy statements, letters and even cancelled checks.
Most important, you need to have evidence that no matter what happened before you have reinstated or renewed your insurance on your vehicle by the time you get to court.
IS THERE ANY TIME I DON’T NEED CAR INSURANCE ON A VEHICLE THAT I OWN?
Not really. Maryland requires you to have insurance from the moment you purchase a car, and in fact you can’t complete registration for a vehicle without it. The insurance company you choose will need to provide you with what is known as an FR-19 form which needs to be received by the MVA.
When you cancel your or your company cancels you, the insurance company will send a notice to the MVA that your vehicle no longer has insurance. You then should receive a letter from the MVA where they ask you to prove that you have continuous coverage on your automotive vehicle. Even one day without insurance is considered a lapse subject to the penalties discussed before in this article.
What if you sell your car? Can you cancel your insurance? You can, but it is important to retain all records you have on your transaction. The MVA might ask you for proof to demonstrate you no longer have ownership.
Same thing if your car is totaled and your insurance company takes possession of the vehicle. Remember the MVA is a bureaucracy. You may need to provide proof from the insurance company that they took title from you. Same thing if you do not a used vehicle to a third party.
If you are reregistering a vehicle from another state, you will need to notify your insurance company, so you can confirm you also have coverage in Maryland.
What if you are moving from Maryland so you’re getting the car registered elsewhere.? You may need to provide proof through documentation of that as well by showing the new registration.
WHAT IF I HAVE A CAR I CAN’T FIX OR CAN’T AFFORD TO FIX? DO I STILL HAVE TO KEEP INSURANCE OR FACE PENALTIES?
If your car is registered with plates, you are required to maintain insurance in Maryland. Any car that is on the street needs title and registration. If you are getting rid of the vehicle, you can cancel insurance by turning in your tags and getting a receipt.
This means using a title and tag service who will do it for you or going to the MVA directly yourself. Again, keep all your paperwork showing what you have done. Don’t assume the MVA has it or will have the most correct, current information. Assume the worst and you will not be disappointed when you don’t need your records.
WHAT IF MY CAR WAS STOLEN? SURELY, I DON’T NEED WORRY ABOUT BEING UNINSURED THEN?
Well, only if you think you’ll never get your car back. If your car is stolen, it will necessary to file and get a copy of a policy report providing all the necessary information as to when the loss occurred, location, etc. You should still not cancel insurance prior to confirming theft. If the car is recovered, you would need to reinstate insurance before being able to drive it again.
The simplest way to summarize it all is to remember that if you are driving a car, you need to register it. If you register and have title of a car, you need proof of insurance and to keep insurance in place.
If you no longer have the car, you need to keep paperwork showing why you don’t. The worst thing you can do is nothing or ignore a letter from the MVA requesting proof. If you fail to pay fines for an unregistered vehicle, eventually it will be sent the Maryland Collections Unit, where they will charge 17% interest on top of whatever else is owed.
From the experience from the staff of the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, despite all the previous warnings of possible problems and pitfalls, most of these cases of driving while uninsured can be resolved successfully to avoid the maximum penalties, jail time or points is to ensure that no one is driving on Maryland’s highways and roads without car insurance.
That’s the good news. However, each situation is different, and you should consult with a Maryland traffic violations lawyer if you are charged with driving an uninsured vehicle in Maryland and be prepared to follow the instructions and advice you receive in order to receive the very best outcome from your case.
Call us now at (410) 694-7291 if you’ve been charged with driving uninsured in Maryland.