Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: May 6, 2022

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In a nutshell

  • Driving a car without insurance in a state where insurance is mandatory is against the law
  • You must carry insurance that’s sold by a carrier licensed in the state where your car is registered
  • If you’re stopped and it’s discovered that you don’t have insurance, the officer could tow your car
  • In some states, towing and impounding an uninsured vehicle is standard practice or even mandatory

Going without insurance isn’t anything at all like going without cable or a cell phone. Cable TV, Internet, cell phone service and many other things in life are classified as luxuries. Having them makes life easier and more enjoyable but not necessary.

Auto insurance is not just something that’s helpful, it’s something that’s mandatory as well.

If you drive without auto insurance in a car that you own, you’re not just putting your finances at risk, you’re putting others that you could potentially harm at risk too.

Getting into an accident without coverage could land you in court and injured parties in the hospital with nothing to file against. This is why states are upping the ante against uninsured drivers.

Can the police tow your car for no insurance? Let’s discuss what could happen if you’re stopped. Before that, if you are also looking for better auto insurance rates, start comparison shopping by entering your ZIP code above!

Can the police tow your car for no insurance?

Car insurance laws vary by state.

One thing that almost all companies have in common is the presence of a compulsory insurance law. Not all states have compulsory laws but most of them do.

When insurance is compulsory in your state, that means that all vehicles registered in the state must be insured by their owners.

There’s no way to get around a mandatory auto insurance law.

There are some states, however, that have different systems set up that only require drivers to show proof of financial responsibility. This proof can refer to insurance, but it can also refer to other types of acceptable proof like a cash deposit or a surety bond.

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How much insurance are you required to carry so you don’t have your car towed for no insurance?

How much insurance that you’re required to carry is dependent on the state and the limit requirements in that state.

Some will require minimal coverage limits for liability only and other officials have deemed it necessary to require additional coverage.

You need to check the requirements in your state to determine what you’ll need.

Insurance Status is Verified by the DMV

You can’t just get away with driving without the mandatory coverage if you don’t get pulled over. Insurance is something that is verified real time in most states.

In states with electronic reporting systems, the state can tell if you don’t have insurance as soon as your policy is inactive.

It’s a bit alarming to learn that you could be caught driving without insurance by DMV officials. You have to understand how the system works to grasp how this is possible.

It all starts with the insurance company. By law, when there’s an electronic database in place, the carrier is required to let the state know when a policy lapses. Then the state sends the vehicle owner a notice asking for proof of active coverage. So you don’t need to get pulled over to have your car towed with no insurance as the reason.

Your Registration Will Be Suspended When Your Insurance Lapses

If you don’t respond to requests for proof of your insurance made by the DMV, the next step will be to suspend your registration.

You can’t get away with driving with a suspended registration for long without getting caught.

Since this is a primary violation that police can pull you over for, it’s possible that having no insurance will get you in legal trouble.

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Police Can See Your Insurance Status Before Pulling You Over

Any state that has an electronic reporting system in place will give their officers access to the data in their patrol cars, so police can tell if you have no car insurance. Now police computers can do more than run your license and your plates, it can also run your insurance information.

Never give an officer an invalid proof of insurance or you can rack up more charges.

There’s a tricky situation when it comes to how officers handle cars without insurance when they see them on the road. By law, most officers aren’t authorized to pull over a car just because their insurance shows up as lapsed.

There has to be another primary violation that they must be cited for before the officer can proceed. Then, when there is a primary violation, being uninsured can land you a second charge.

Can the police tow your car for no insurance after you get pulled over?

If you disclose that you don’t have insurance or you can’t answer the officer’s questions, it’s quite possible that the officer will call a tow truck and have your car taken from the scene.

Sometimes, it’s at the officer’s discretion as to whether or not the car will be towed.

Other times, it’s mandatory for law enforcement to tow all uninsured vehicles when the driver is cited. Check requirements in your state.

What happens if the car is impounded for no insurance?

It’d be nice if the officer would let you call your own tow truck so that you can have your car towed to your home. Some officers will let you do this on a good day but only if impounding the car isn’t required.

States with more strict policies in place will order that uninsured cars be impounded.

When cars are impounded, they have to be towed to a police yard and then they will remain in the department’s possession for a minimum number of days.

If you’ve been cited for the same offense multiple times, you could be ordered to keep the car in the yard for 30 days or more. In other cases, you’ll just have to show that you have insurance.

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How much will it cost to get your car back if it’s towed with no insurance?

Paying for towing and impound fees aren’t cheap. The police won’t pay the fees for you just because they are ordering your car be taken.

You still have to pay for hookup, towing, lot fees, and the daily charge for storage. The longer the car is in custody, the more you’ll pay.

Can the police tow your car for no insurance? The Bottom Line

You should never take driving uninsured lightly. Getting cited and having your car towed isn’t even the worst thing that could happen if you don’t carry insurance.

You could lose more than access to your car, you could lose all your assets.

Get online quotes for auto insurance right now and get insurance before you drive again.

Start comparison shopping today by using our FREE online quote tool! Enter your ZIP code below to get started!