Suspended for driving without insurance?
We receive calls daily from citizens who have received notices from the BMV informing them that their driving privileges are going to be suspended because they drove without insurance. This is easy to understand if they owned the car they were driving and it wasn’t covered, but what if the driver was not the owner of the car? What if you borrow a car from a friend? Can you be penalized for not having insurance? Increasingly, we are receiving calls that deal with this scenario where the BMV is suspending the license of the drivers of the car, even if it wasn’t their car. In Indiana, pursuant to IC 9-25-4-1, IC 9-25-4-3, and IC 9-25-4-4, a person may not operate a vehicle on a public road, street, or highway unless he or she continuously maintains proof of financial responsibility. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Gutierrez, 866 N.E.2d 747, 2007 Ind. LEXIS 359 (Ind. 2007).
Independently, IC 9-25-4-1 states a person may not (1) register a motor vehicle; or (2) operate a motor vehicle on a public highway in Indiana if financial responsibility is not in effect with respect to the motor vehicle under section IC 9-25-4-4 of this chapter, or the person is not otherwise insured in order to operate the motor vehicle.
In turn, financial responsibility, under IC 9-25-4-4, is considered to be in effect with respect to a motor vehicle if:
- A motor vehicle liability insurance policy issued with respect to the motor vehicle or
operator under IC 9-25-5-7;
- A bond executed with respect to the motor vehicle under IC 9-25-4-7 of this chapter;
- The status of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle as a self-insurer, as
recognized by the bureau through the issuance of a certificate of self-insurance under IC 9-25-4-11 of this chapter;
provides the ability to respond in damages for liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the motor vehicle in amounts at least equal to those set forth in IC 9-25-4-5 or IC 9-25-4-6.
According to IC 9-25-2-3 “proof of financial responsibility” means proof of ability to respond in damages for each motor vehicle registered by a person for liability that arises out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the motor vehicle in the following amounts:
- Twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) because of bodily injury to or death of any
one (1) person.
- Subject to the limit in subdivision (1), fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) because of
bodily injury to or death of two (2) or more persons in any one (1) accident.
- Ten thousand dollars ($10,000) because of injury to or destruction of property in any
one (1) accident.
Pursuant to IC 9-25-8-2, a person who knowingly operates, or permits the operation of, a motor vehicle on a public highway in Indiana without financial responsibility commits a Class A infraction. However, the offense is a Class C misdemeanor if the person knowingly or intentionally violates this section and has a prior unrelated conviction or judgment under this section. This means that repeat offenses for this driving without insurance create the possibility of receiving up to 60 days in jail and/or probation.
In addition to any fines or jail time, there is also, obviously, the impact on driving privileges. A driver will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility if (1) they are convicted of a traffic offense that requires a court appearance, or (2) they were identified as a driver of any vehicle listed in an accident report that was received by the BMV. If proof of financial responsibility cannot be provided, then their license will be suspended either by a court or directly from the BMV. In order to prevent a license suspension for a driver involved in an accident, that person must have the insurance company provide to the BMV, a certificate of compliance showing that financial responsibility was in effect on the date of the accident.
If you don’t own the vehicle you are operating, you do receive slight relief in requirements pursuant to IC 9-25-5-7, which provides that whenever a person required to give proof of financial responsibility under this article is not the owner of a motor vehicle, the following apply:
- If the person seeks only to reinstate the person’s suspended driver’s license or driving
privileges, the person is not required to give proof of financial responsibility.
- If subdivision (1) does not apply, an operator’s policy of liability insurance is
sufficient proof of financial responsibility.
The suspension of one’s license or driving privileges is obviously one of the major hardships created by operating vehicle without proof of financial responsibility. Fortunately, through the creation of specialized driving privileges (which are explained in depth on our Blog page), one is able to drive, albeit with restrictions, even though their privileges are suspended. However, the decision to attempt to obtain specialized driving privileges is tough when the suspension is related to failing to provide proof of financial responsibility because, unless the operator has a prior judgement for the same offense, the suspension is only 90 days whereas the specialized driving privileges would need to be in place for at least 180 days. Depending on one’s circumstances, it may very well make the most sense to just not drive for the 90 days rather than have restrictions on one’s ability to driver for at least 180 days. However, if one’s license has been suspended based on repeat insurance violations, which could be up to a year, specialized driving privileges would be able to provide a tremendous benefit.
If you or someone you know is facing a license suspension for driving without insurance, or for any other reason, call the experienced Indiana traffic ticket attorneys at Banks & Brower. We are available 24/7 at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 317-870-0019.