Is Driving Without Insurance a Crime in South Carolina?

auto insurance

If you plan on driving in South Carolina, it’s crucial to understand the legal requirements for auto insurance. If you fail to carry the mandatory insurance minimums and drive without insurance, you will face significant penalties, including steep monetary fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and even possible jail time. It’s imperative to understand the state’s laws and requirements to avoid these penalties. South Carolina considers driving uninsured a severe offense. Please continue reading to learn more about the penalties you could face for driving without insurance in South Carolina and how a determined Chesterfield Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you navigate your legal options. 

What Are the Legal Requirements for Auto Insurance in South Carolina?

Like most states, South Carolina requires all drivers to maintain active car insurance coverage to meet the minimum requirements to drive legally in the state. In addition, all drivers must carry proof of insurance when driving and be shown to law enforcement agents when requested. Car insurance providers must offer uninsured motorist coverage. However, drivers have the option to decline the coverage. The required liability coverage in South Carolina is 25/50/25:

  • Per-person: This coverage will pay for a person you injure in an auto accident ($25,000).
  • Bodily injury coverage per accident: This coverage will pay for all injured parties in an accident you caused ($50,000.
  • Property damage per accident: This coverage refers to the maximum dollar amount paid for the damage you caused to another party’s property in an accident ($25,000)

These numbers reflect the minimum coverage types. Uninsured motorist coverage is split in essentially the same way.

What Are the Potential Consequences of Driving Without Insurance?

South Carolina police officers will ask you for proof of auto insurance when conducting a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. If you can’t produce it, you will receive a citation and a court date. The severity of your penalties will vary depending on the number of previous offenses. For a first-offense uninsured driving conviction, you could face an uninsured motorist fee of $600 if the coverage is not restored, up to a $200 fine, 30 days in jail, or both, and $5 per day for each day you went without insurance. Also, your license and registration could be suspended until you show proof of auto insurance coverage.

For a second offense, all the penalties for driving without insurance will apply for the first offense. However, there is no option for a fine or jail time. You will incur a fine and face jail time. In South Carolina, a second offense of an uninsured driving conviction is a misdemeanor, which will result in a permanent criminal record. If you have a third offense, you will face the above penalties, but the jail time will increase to 45 days and six months.

Given the high stakes, it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of a talented lawyer from the Cockrell Law Firm, P.C., who can help defend your rights and interests every step of the way.