Driving without insurance in Ohio


Most drivers are always looking for ways to save money – especially on auto insurance – and sometimes for Ohio drivers that means they’ll opt to drive uninsured in Ohio. But does this have consequences? Is it safe to do this? Is it even legal?

The answer to the last question is yes – it’s illegal to drive without insurance in Ohio and it can lead to a whole host of penalties.

Ohio Auto Insurance Laws

Ohio Law requires all drivers to have, as a minimum, a 25/50/25 policy. In writing, this means that if you are found guilty of an accident, your insurer must pay up to:

  • $ 25,000 per person for bodily injury / death
  • $ 50,000 per accident for bodily injury / death
  • $ 25,000 per accident for property damage

Of course, that’s only the minimum, and you can always buy more liability protection if your budget allows. Although the above amounts represent a lot of money, there are many scenarios where they would not be enough. For example, many new cars cost between $ 40,000 and $ 50,000. Any amount that exceeds your policy limits must be paid by you out of pocket.

Two states have unusual insurance laws where you can technically get away with auto insurance. These states are Virginia and New Hampshire. However, Ohio does not have a legal vacuum, which means that if you want to drive you must have at least a basic policy with minimal coverage.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Ohio

Is there a penalty for driving without insurance in Ohio? Yes, in fact there are several penalties.

Ohio has two ways of determining if you are driving without auto insurance. Stop and ask for proof of auto insurance, or the Ohio BMV being notified by your old insurance provider that you have abandoned them.

If you get a ticket without insurance, Ohio has three phases of sanctions to prevent you from driving again without insurance.

First offense

Your license will be immediately suspended and various fines will take effect immediately if you are caught driving without car insurance.

The fees are $ 160 in total:

  • $ 100 reinstatement fee
  • $ 50 compliance fee
  • $ 10 registration fee

Ohio will restore your driving privileges after you pay all the appropriate fees and are able to provide proof of insurance. If the state finds that you’ve broken any conditions, they’ll take your license plates for a full 30 days and stop your car.

Second offense

If you are caught driving without insurance within five years of your first offense, Ohio will suspend your driver’s license for a full year. It is possible to obtain certain driving privileges after 15 days, but this is not a guarantee and will be granted or denied at the discretion of the court.

It costs more to reinstate your license after a second offense than the first. In total, you will pay $ 360:

  • $ 300 reinstatement fee
  • $ 50 compliance fee
  • $ 10 registration fee

If it turns out that you later violated any conditions, Ohio will confiscate your car and license plates for a full 60 days (up from 30 days for your first violation).

Third offense and beyond

If you’re caught driving without insurance for the third time within 5 years, Ohio will require you to surrender your license for two years. It is possible that a judge will allow you to have partial driving privileges after 30 days – but this is not a guarantee.

The reinstatement fee is double the amount for a second offense. In total, you will have to pay $ 660:

  • $ 600 reinstatement fee
  • $ 50 compliance fee
  • $ 10 registration fee

If Ohio feels you’ve broken any conditions, it will not only take your car away from you, but sell it and take any profits it receives. In addition, you will not be able to register another car for five years.

Having an accident without insurance in Ohio

If you drive in Ohio without insurance and you have an accident, the first thing that will happen is that you will receive a citation from an agent for not being able to provide proof of insurance (in which case all the penalties described above will come into effect).

If you are not at fault, your worries end there. However, if you are at fault, you are going to have possible scenarios.

Remember: Ohio is a tort state, which means drivers found to be responsible for accidents are responsible for the medical bills and property damage they cause. In many cases, this can be an extreme amount of money.

If you are not able to pay for everything out of pocket, chances are you will be sued. In this case, any assets you own (like a house, boat, or car) will likely be liquidated.

This is especially true if the damage you cause is over $ 400. If so, Ohio can suspend your driving privileges for up to two years until a payment agreement is reached.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best auto insurance in Ohio?

Choosing the best auto insurance in Ohio is no easy task. This is because everyone has different needs. Some things people are looking for include:

  • Strongest customer service
  • Highest financial score
  • Cheapest premiums
  • Best discounts
  • Best mobile app
  • Ideal for grouping

Therefore, there are many ways to answer this question. For an in-depth dive on this same subject, read our Best Auto Insurance Companies in Ohio page.

Does Ohio have a lot of uninsured drivers?

Yes, Ohio has a fair amount of uninsured drivers compared to other states. According to The latest study from the Insurance Information Institute, just over 12% of Ohioans drive without insurance, making it the 22nd worst state.

Does Ohio have a lot of traffic accidents?

Yes, a large amount of claims come out of Ohio every year. According to Ohio State Patrol, in 2020, there were a total of 241,363 traffic accidents. Of these 241,363 accidents:

  • 1,138 were fatal
  • 5,826 resulted in serious physical injuries
  • 177,023 property damage only


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