Driving Without Insurance in Michigan
The first thing a police officer asks for when someone is pulled over is their license, registration, and proof of insurance. If you are pulled over for a traffic violation or other driving related offense without proof of valid insurance, then you may be charged with a crime. The punishments you face could involve fines, the loss of your driving privileges, and greatly increased insurance premiums. The seriousness of this offense greatly increases if you are involved in an accident and someone is injured.
Being Caught Driving Without Insurance: The Law
If you have been accused of driving without insurance and were involved in an auto accident, then the best thing that you can do is to contact the skilled driver’s license attorneys at Grabel & Associates. Let’s begin by looking at the statutory language of the law, then talk about who can be charged, and what we can do to help.
Therefore, if you own or register a vehicle in Michigan, then you are going to need personal protection insurance, property protection insurance, and residual liability insurance. The personal protection insurance being described is most often referred to as “no-fault insurance.” If you do not have no-fault driver’s insurance, then you will not have access to the bundle of rights insured drivers do. This includes the right to recover medical bills due to auto related injuries and the right to sue for pain and suffering. You can also be charged with a misdemeanor.
Who Can Be Charged for Failing to Have Evidence of Insurance?
An owner or registrant who operates a vehicle or permits a vehicle to be operated without insurance is guilty of a misdemeanor under MCL 500.3102(2). This misdemeanor crime carries a maximum penalty of $500 in fines and one year in prison. Additionally, a person who operates a vehicle who has knowledge that the owner or registrant does not have insurance is also guilty of the same misdemeanor. Therefore, if Uninsured Ed allows his son, Driver Dan, to take his truck to the store, and Driver Dan knows that his dad’s truck is uninsured, then both Uninsured Ed and Driver Dan can face criminal charges. Ed, because he knowingly permitted someone to drive an uninsured vehicle that is registered to him, and Dan, because he knowingly drove an uninsured vehicle on a public road.
Failing to Have A Copy of Your Insurance Information On Your Person
If you have valid insurance, but cannot produce it at the time you are pulled over, then you may be charged with the same offense discussed above. This situation could arise, because you never put the information in your glove box or had not yet received the paperwork from your insurance company. However, MCL500.3102 explains that in this situation once a person is charged with failure to produce evidence of insurance, then it creates a rebuttable presumption that a person does not have valid insurance. This means it is assumed that you do not have insurance, but you will have an opportunity to prove that you do. Consequently, if you do have valid insurance, then you can produce it at the hearing and rebut the presumption and have the charges dropped.
Personal Protection Benefits or No-Fault Insurance Benefits
MCL 500.3104 describes the benefits a person gets for personal protection insurance. Personal protection insurance is “no-fault insurance.” No-fault insurance covers all reasonable expenses for an injured person’s care, recovery, and rehabilitation. It also includes hospital bills, ambulance rides, and lost wages. If a person loses their ability to work as a result of a collision, then no-fault insurance will cover the first three years of lost wages as a result of the accident.
What Happens If You are Involved in an Auto Accident Without Insurance?
The penalties can be steep. You really cannot afford not to have insurance in Michigan. First, you are going to be charged with a misdemeanor under MCL 500.3102(2). Second, you will lose your rights to sue the other driver for pain and suffering damages. You also cannot recover your lost wages resulting from an injury. Finally, you may be held personally liable to pay for another person’s medical bills, lost wages, and the damage to their vehicle.
Penalties of Driving Without Insurance
The penalties for driving without insurance and being involved in an accident can be severe even if you were not the driver at fault. We can break up the penalties in terms of liabilities you could owe to the insurance company for the other driver, and liabilities for your own bills, damages, and medical expenses. Additionally, you could have your license suspended or revoked. First, let’s look at the law that governs penalties of driving without insurance.
A person involved in an auto accident without insurance may be obligated to reimburse the insurance company for the benefits paid to the other driver. The uninsured driver has 30 days to make such payments to the insurance company or faces a revocation or suspension of his driver’s license that may also result in a loss of his or her vehicle registration.
What You Can Lose When You Are Involved In an Accident Without Insurance
Under MCL 500.3135(c) and (b) it states that “Damages shall not be assessed to a party who was operating his or her own vehicle at the time the injury occurred and did not have in effect for that motor vehicle the security required by section 3101 at the time the injury occurred.” The security required by section 3101 is no fault insurance, and “damages” refers to recovering money after suing the other driver. Consequently, you cannot sue the other driver, even if they were at fault. Additionally, the statute goes on to restrict damages against a person who does not have no fault insurance by refusing to allow non-economic damages or “pain and suffering” damages. If a person has suffered serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent serious disfigurement, then they have a right to sue for pain and suffering, however, if you do not have insurance you lose that right. Unfortunately, this is true even if you are completely innocent in terms of who caused the accident. The same is true for damages to your vehicle. Additionally, you lose all your rights to no-fault coverage benefits including having your medical bills paid, and the right to recover lost wages that occurred as a result of missed time for an injury. This means that you can end up paying all of your own medical expenses.
What Does This All Mean?
If you are driving an automobile and are involved in an accident, then you are likely going to be charged with a misdemeanor of driving without insurance, and will face significant legal and financial exposure. You can be sued by the insurance company to pay for another person’s medical bills, and the lost wages of the other driver even if he or she was completely at fault. Additionally, the insurance company can sue you to pay for all of the other driver’s damage to their vehicle. Plus, the driver can potentially sue you for non-economic damages, or pain and suffering damages. Finally, the judge is able to sentence you to jail or potentially suspend or revoke your license.
Driving without valid insurance in Michigan is a very serious offense, and you need to get out in front of the charges and potential legal exposure with the insurance company if you were involved in an accident. Grabel & Associates has the experience and expertise to fight for you in court to protect your freedom, driver’s license, and financial interests. We work with you to provide a complete, comprehensive legal defense strategy for all pending legal issues. Contact Grabel & Associates today to schedule a free consultation, so we can begin assessing and building your case.