Idaho State Laws
We’ve compiled the most important Idaho driving laws that you need to know and follow.
Idaho is an at-fault state, which means that the party responsible for the accident (or their insurer) will pay for the accident’s losses, including property damage and bodily injury. Since Idaho is a modified comparative state, financial responsibility falls to the party 50 percent or more at fault for the accident (unless both parties are equally responsible). In other words, the responsible party pays the bills.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Idaho requires drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage. In Idaho, it’s estimated that more than 13 percent of drivers break the law and drive without insurance. These uninsured drivers put insured motorists at risk of getting hit by someone not covered by insurance.
Idaho law mitigates this risk by requiring $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident. However, if you have multiple cars with uninsured motorist coverage, you can’t stack coverage, or get higher limits based on how many insured cars you own.
There are strict DUI laws in Idaho. If you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.2 or more, you can be fined up to $2,000 and receive a 90-day license suspension for the first offense. The DUI will stay on your record for five years.
If you have a second offense, you might pay up to $5,000, get your license suspended, and spend up to five years in prison. The state requires ignition interlock devices with all convictions.4
Seat Belt Laws
State laws require passengers to wear seat belts in Idaho. Driving without a seat belt is a secondary offense, meaning a police officer can’t stop you exclusively for a seat belt violation; you’d need to be committing another violation for that.5
The seat belt violation penalty is $10 for any adult.6 For minors not properly restrained in car seats, the penalty is $79.
Distracted Driving Laws in Idaho
Like most states, Idaho has distracted driving laws that ban all drivers from using handheld devices, which includes texting while driving. Citations for a first offense are $75. Citations for a second offense within a three-year period are $150, and citations for a third offense are $300.7
Teen Driving Laws
Idaho has a graduated driver’s license program. Teens under the age of 17 must complete 30 hours of classroom instruction, six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, and six hours of in-car observation to pass the required driver’s education class.
In a period of no less than six months, they must practice for 50 hours in a supervised fashion with an adult licensed driver; 10 of these hours must be at night while they have their permit. To get a license, teens must pass both the written knowledge test and the road skills test.
Teens under the age of 16 can drive only during daylight hours unless accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age. Drivers under 17 cannot transport more than one passenger unless they’re related by blood, adoption, or marriage.
Statute of Limitations
Idaho has a different statute of limitations for claims, depending on whether the claim is for property damage or bodily injury. Claimants must file property damage claims within three years from the accident date and injury claims within two years. If they miss this deadline, their claims will be denied.
Cancellation and Non-Renewal Notification Laws
Insurance carriers can cancel your policy for specific reasons. While there are no restrictions for cancellations within the first 60 days of your policy’s effective date, after this period, carriers can cancel it only for fraud, failure to pay premiums, or license suspensions/revocations. Carriers can also choose to not renew your policy at the end of its term due to a high number of claims or bad driving record.
Even though an insurance carrier can cancel or decline to renew your policy, it has to give you enough time to get other insurance. If a carrier cancels your policy for nonpayment, it has to give you 10 days’ notice prior to the expiration date. All other midterm cancellations must include 20 days’ notice, while non-renewals require 30 days’ notice.
Idaho allows drivers with multiple vehicles and high net worth to meet their financial responsibility requirements by self-insuring. Here’s how:
- Print and complete the application for a certificate of self-insurance — https://www.co.nezperce.id.us/Portals/0/Assessor/3117_NPC.pdf.
- Compile an electronic list of your vehicles, including the year, make, model, license plate number, and VIN of each.
- Obtain a certified, accountant-signed statement that your net worth is at least $500,000. This serves as proof of your ability to pay for injury or damage.
- Make out a $70 payment to the state of Idaho.
- Complete and sign a W-9 form (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf).
- Mail your payment and documents to this address:
- Idaho Department of Transportation
- P.O. Box 7129
- Boise, ID 83707
Car Inspection Requirements
Idaho requires emissions testing on all registered vehicles in the state. Testing centers may include mechanics shops and gas stations. You can find a station near you at https://idahovip.org/stations.html.
Tests cost $14 to $20, depending on the station. The testing center will give you an emissions certificate upon completion. The mechanic will then file this certificate with the Idaho Department of Transportation so that you can proceed with registration.
An SR-22 is a document that proves you have the minimum insurance for your vehicle. The Idaho Department of Transportation requires SR-22s in these circumstances:
- If you failed to provide proof of insurance
- If you received a DUI or refused to submit to a breathalyzer test
- If you received an unsatisfied judgment or left the scene of an accident that resulted in death or injury
In Idaho, you can take a defensive driving course to reduce the points on your record. Defensive driving courses teach drivers how to avoid hazards and risks on the road, making them safer drivers. The state may remove up to three points from your record with the satisfactory completion of a defensive driving course.
Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds
There are no serious injury or monetary thresholds to sue for damages in Idaho. A victim of an accident can sue for any amount, regardless of their losses or injuries.
Accident Reporting Requirements
You must file a report with the police if you’re in an accident that results in any injuries or property damages exceeding $1,500, or death. If you don’t file a report immediately, you could face a fine and license suspension.
Idaho allows insurance companies to use credit scores and gender to determine insurance rates. Your credit score leads to an insurance score, which gives insurance carriers an idea of the probability of your filing a claim. People with lower credit scores tend to file more claims, so they must pay higher rates. Likewise, men pay more for auto insurance in Idaho because they are more likely to be in accidents than women.
When Is a Car Declared a Total Loss?
Idaho insurance carriers must use the total loss formula when determining if a car is a total loss after an accident. The total loss formula states that a carrier can total a car if the salvage value is less than the repair cost.