Illinois Vehicle Insurance Statute: Broken Down

Illinois’ vehicle insurance statute is broken up into two parts: the requirement to carry liability insurance, and the requirement to carry proof of that liability insurance in your vehicle.  This means that just by failing to carry the insurance card in your car, you have violated one of the insurance statutes, even if you have valid insurance at the time of the stop.  Most of the time however, once you show the prosecutor or judge a copy of your insurance they will dismiss the ticket, but they do not have to.  By failing to carry that proof with you, you have already violated the law.

Operating an Uninsured Vehicle and the Repercussions

The other part of this common violation is operating an uninsured motor vehicle.  (625 ILCS 5/3-707) Police often use this statute interchangeably with the failure to carry proof of insurance statute, however they are different.  A ticket for operating an uninsured motor vehicle has much harsher and longer lasting effects than having valid insurance and simply failing to carry the card on you.  If convicted of failing to have insurance at the time of the traffic stop, the driver will automatically have his or her driver’s license suspended for 3 months and will be required to carry high risk, SR-22 insurance, which is more expensive than regular insurance, for an extended period of time (usually 36 months).  Keep in mind also that after-acquired insurance is not enough to beat this ticket, meaning that if you did not have insurance at the time of the traffic stop, but later went out and got insurance, that is usually not enough.  The statute requires you to have insurance at all times while driving, and if the date on the insurance doesn’t state that you were insured on the date of the stop, the prosecutor can successfully proceed on the ticket.

Is this a petty or misdemeanor violation?

Violation of either statute is considered a petty offense unless there was an accident.  If an uninsured driver is involved in an accident, the offense is considered a Class A Misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2500 fine. If no accident took place, the violation is considered a petty offense, meaning the penalty is a fine more than $500 but less than $1000, and jail time is not even on the table.  That being said, as noted above, a conviction for this will also mean a suspended license and a long-time requirement for SR-22 insurance.

If you were given a ticket for not having proof of insurance, or you were operating an uninsured vehicle, it is important to contact Giannola Legal to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys to learn about what this means for your driving record, and what we can do to help you.