How Police Catch Uninsured Drivers

Police catch uninsured drivers using vehicle checkpoints, data from insurance companies, and by checking your coverage during traffic stops.
Written by Jessica Barrett
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Sep 28, 2021
Car ownership is expensive, and insurance can be one of the more costly monthly expenses. That might be why about 13% of drivers in the US—that’s about 32 million—don’t have car insurance coverage.
To combat the issue, police have a variety of resources at their disposal. Catching drivers who hit the road without insurance makes driving safer for everyone.
And finding affordable insurance rates? That helps make the road safer, too.
Trusted insurance comparison app
and licensed broker
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can help drivers find affordable insurance so that they don’t have to drive without it.
And to ensure you always have the cheapest
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. Jerry will send you new quotes every time your policy comes up for renewal—so you’re always getting the coverage you want at the best price. No need to drive uninsured!
But here’s how police catch drivers that do drive uninsured.

What happens if I get pulled over without insurance?

Driving without insurance
or proof of financial responsibility is illegal in all 50 states.
If you’re caught, penalties may include fines, suspension of your license and registration, vehicle impoundment, community service, an
SR-22 requirement
, and even imprisonment.
Uninsured drivers in Pennsylvania, for example, are subject to a $300 fine, three-month license and registration suspension, and possible vehicle impoundment—and that’s for a first-time offender!
The bad news doesn’t stop there. If you’re convicted of driving without insurance, it can make it more difficult for you to get insurance in the future—and even more difficult to find affordable insurance. Some companies won’t insure drivers with this conviction at all.
Key Takeaway Penalties for driving uninsured may include fines, suspension of your license and registration, vehicle impoundment, community service, an SR-22 requirement, and even imprisonment
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How police catch uninsured drivers

Police use a number of different methods to catch
uninsured drivers
. And as technology continues to improve, police have more and more resources at their fingertips.
Here are some of the common ways police catch uninsured drivers.

Vehicle checkpoints

While not as common as they used to be, police do still set up checkpoints where they ask drivers for their license, registration, and insurance.
If you fail to provide proof of insurance at a checkpoint, you’ll be subject to a fine. If you have no insurance coverage at all, you’ll likely end up getting your vehicle towed.

Pulling you over for a traffic violation

This is one of the easiest ways for police to determine whether you have adequate insurance coverage.
When you’re pulled over for a
violation
, you must provide your license, registration, and proof of insurance—and all they have to do is call the number on the back of your insurance card to find out whether it’s valid.
Not having proof of insurance is different than not having insurance coverage at all. If you do have insurance but don’t have your slip with you, you’ll likely be issued a fine that will be dropped once you
show proof of coverage
.
Having expired insurance or not having any coverage at all will land you hot water. You’ll almost certainly receive a hefty fine, and you might have your license and registration suspended, too.

Automatic license plate recognition systems

ALPR systems are a new technology that allows police to quickly and easily find uninsured drivers. They can determine whether or not a car is properly insured simply by running the license plate number.
Texas was one of the first states to introduce an ALPR system, which they call TexasSure. They saw the uninsured driving rate drop from 22% in 2009 to 11% in 2015.
According to 2019 data from the Insurance Information Institute, only about 8.3% of drivers in Texas are currently uninsured.

Using data from insurance companies

Some states require that insurance companies share their database of policy numbers and
license plate
numbers.
In theory, this makes it easier to match registered cars with their policies. It also makes it more difficult for uninsured drivers to present fraudulent insurance information to the police if they’re pulled over.
In practice, though, many police forces do not have on-demand access to the database, so they still need to manually call in policy numbers to ensure that everything checks out.

How to find affordable car insurance

Going without insurance isn’t a good option, and it can land you with some pretty severe and long-lasting consequences.
The better solution? Buying the coverage you need at a price you can afford—and the
car insurance
comparison shopping and broker app
Jerry
can help with that! Jerry is the easiest and most effective way to find a car insurance policy that is customized for you.
After providing you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, Jerry will handle the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals for your top pick so that you don’t have to. They even help cancel your old policy! So why do all that extra work when Jerry can do it better?

FAQs

Can police tell if you have no insurance?

Yes, they can. However, you need to be pulled over, or stopped for some reason first. Although technology is good, police usually won't run an insurance check unless they have cause. That doesn't mean you should drive without it, though!

Can police see what type of insurance you have?

Yes. Most police have access to insurance databases these days. However, if you're being asked to show proof of insurance, they're most likely going to check that your policy hasn't expired. Running the numbers for the exact package is typically a lengthy process—one unlikely to be undertaken at a standard stop.
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