Driving without car insurance in Arkansas can lead to expensive fines and other penalties. Here’s a detailed look at how much a no insurance ticket costs in the Natural State.
Overview of Driving Without Insurance Penalties
Arkansas requires all drivers to carry minimum liability insurance coverage. Specifically, you must have:
$25,000 bodily injury liability per person
$50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
$25,000 property damage liability
If you’re caught driving without proof of valid auto insurance, you’ll face fines starting at $50 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses come with steeper fines up to $1,000, license suspension, and even jail time.
Below is an overview of the penalties for driving without insurance in Arkansas:
First offense – $50 to $250 fine, unless you provide proof of insurance within 30 days. No jail time.
Second offense – Mandatory fine of $250 to $500. No jail time.
Third offense – $500 to $1,000 fine and/or up to 1 year in jail.
In addition to fines, you’ll face driver’s license and vehicle registration suspension. Your car may also be impounded if you’re pulled over without proof of insurance.
First Offense Penalties
For a first offense of driving without insurance in Arkansas, you’ll face a fine of $50 to $250. However, you can avoid the fine altogether if you provide proof of valid insurance that was in effect at the time you were pulled over.
You have 30 days to present your insurance identification card or other proof of coverage to the court or Department of Finance and Administration. As long as you had active car insurance when you were ticketed, the no insurance charge will be dismissed.
If you cannot provide proof of insurance, you’ll have to pay the fine. First offense fines typically range from $50 to $150. Expect to pay at the higher end of $200 to $250 if there were aggravating circumstances, like a car accident.
In addition to the fine, your vehicle registration will be suspended for up to 3 months. You’ll have to pay a $20 reinstatement fee to get your registration privileges back.
Second Offense Penalties
The penalties go up if you’re caught a second time driving without car insurance in Arkansas. The fine increases to a mandatory $250 to $500 for a second offense.
You will not be able to dismiss the ticket by later providing proof of insurance. The fine cannot be waived for a second or subsequent violation.
A second conviction will also result in a 60-day suspension of your driver’s license. You’ll need to pay a $100 reinstatement fee to regain your driving privileges after the suspension period.
Third Offense Penalties
A third or subsequent conviction for driving without insurance comes with harsh penalties in Arkansas. You’ll face:
Fine of $500 to $1,000
Possible jail sentence up to 1 year
90-day to 1-year license suspension
The judge has discretion in setting the fine amount and determining whether jail time applies. Expect a $1,000 fine and the maximum 1-year jail sentence if there are aggravating factors.
Your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 90 days. The suspension could extend up to 1 year. You’ll pay a $200 fee to reinstate your license after the suspension is over.
Even on a first offense, the police officer who pulls you over can impound your vehicle if you cannot show proof of insurance. You’ll have to pay towing and storage fees to get your car back.
Impound fees typically start around $150 for the tow plus $20 to $40 per day for storage. The fees add up quickly, so your total bill to retrieve an impounded vehicle often exceeds $500.
Having your uninsured car impounded is inconvenient and expensive. But on the bright side, you won’t be able to drive the vehicle until you get insurance.
Getting Insurance After a Lapse
If you receive a no insurance ticket, it means your car insurance policy lapsed or you were driving a car without adding it to your policy. Either way, you’ll need to get insured promptly to avoid further tickets and restore your driving privileges.
Here are some tips for finding affordable car insurance after a lapse in Arkansas:
Shop around – Get quotes from multiple insurers. Rates can vary dramatically between companies.
Raise your deductibles – Opting for higher deductibles saves you money on premiums. Just be sure you have savings to cover the out-of-pocket costs if you have a claim.
Drop optional coverage – Dropping comprehensive and collision coverage brings down the price. Keep in mind you won’t be covered for vehicle damage if you cause an accident.
Limit mileage – Declare lower annual mileage if it applies. Premiums are based partly on how much you drive.
Improve credit – Insurers use credit-based insurance scores to set rates. Improving your credit could help you save.
Enroll in defensive driving – Completing an approved defensive driving course earns you a discount in Arkansas if you’re over 55.
Use insurance discounts – Take advantage of any discounts you qualify for, like good student, multi-car, etc.
Consider state programs – If you still can’t afford standard insurance, Arkansas has programs like the Auto Insurance Plan that provide coverage options for high-risk drivers.
Fighting a No Insurance Ticket
There are limited options for fighting a citation for driving without insurance in Arkansas. Your best defense is showing you did in fact have active insurance when you were pulled over.
To make your case in court, be ready to provide documentation such as:
A declarations page or insurance card showing your policy number and effective dates
Proof of insurance payments for the time period when you were ticketed
A letter from your insurance company verifying your coverage status
If the judge determines you had valid insurance and this is your first offense, the ticket will be dismissed.
For second and subsequent convictions, unfortunately you cannot dismiss the ticket by later providing proof of insurance. The judge also has no authority to reduce second offense fines below the $250 minimum set by law.
About the only other defense strategy is arguing there was an error in identifying your vehicle. For example, if the ticket lists the wrong license plate number or car make/model, you may be able to get the citation dismissed.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Arkansas
To avoid fines and penalties, make sure you always have at least the minimum liability insurance while driving in Arkansas:
$25,000 bodily injury per person
$50,000 bodily injury per accident
$25,000 property damage
This state-required coverage pays for damages and injuries you cause to others in an at-fault accident. It does NOT cover damage to your own vehicle.
Optional coverages like collision and comprehensive are not required but highly recommended. Otherwise you’ll pay out-of-pocket for vehicle repairs.
The Cost of Car Insurance in Arkansas
On average, car insurance in Arkansas costs $1,592 per year for minimum liability and $2,847 annually for full coverage. However, your premiums will vary based on factors like your:
Type of vehicle
Age and gender
Rates also fluctuate between insurance companies. That’s why it pays to compare quotes whenever your policy is up for renewal.
The best way to find the cheapest car insurance in Arkansas is to get quotes from multiple top insurers:
Using an online quote comparison tool makes it easy to get rate estimates from several companies at once. This lets you find the best price on coverage.
Penalties for Lapsed Insurance
In addition to no insurance tickets, you can face penalties from the state and your insurer if you let your car insurance lapse.
For starters, the DMV will suspend your vehicle registration if you go without insurance. You’ll need to pay a $20 reinstatement fee plus show proof of new insurance to get your registration restored.
Most car insurance companies will also hit you with expensive fees for a lapse in coverage:
Non-payment fee – $25 to $50 for missed installment payments
Lapse fee – $150 to $250 for letting coverage expire
Reinstatement fee – $150 to $400 to restart a cancelled policy
Plus, a gap in insurance is considered a high-risk factor by insurers. You’ll pay significantly higher rates when starting a new policy after a lapse.
Our Take on No Insurance Violations
Driving without insurance is never a good idea. The penalties are just too severe, especially for repeat offenses. Plus, you put your finances at huge risk if you cause an accident without coverage.
Our advice is to make sure you always have active car insurance anytime you drive. Shop around for the best rate if premiums are unaffordable. And take advantage of discounts to lower your insurance costs.
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