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Last updated: January 10, 2024

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in North Carolina

Not having liability insurance in North Carolina could cost you.

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North Carolina has the seventh-lowest car insurance rates in the country, with an annual average cost of only $753, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That’s much less than the national average of $1,047.

Despite this low rate, 7 percent of drivers on the road in North Carolina lack insurance, as estimated by the Insurance Research Council. While that’s lower than the national average of 12 percent, driving without insurance is still illegal and could result in fees of up to $200, plus thousands more if you cause an accident, as you’ll be financially responsible for all property damages and medical costs. Let’s go over what happens if you’re caught driving without car insurance in North Carolina.

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in North Carolina

Compared with other state laws governing driving without insurance, North Carolina’s penalties are relatively minor. At worst, if you’re convicted of driving without insurance for the third time within three years — a Class 3 misdemeanor — you’ll have to pay a $150 fee. Not responding to the state’s notice within 10 days will lead to a license plate revocation. Plus, you’ll pay a $50 fine to restore your license plate once you prove you have the state’s minimum coverage.

Infraction Penalty
1st insurance lapse $50
2nd insurance lapse within 3 years of current lapse $100
3rd and subsequent insurance lapses within 3 years of the current lapse $150
Failure to respond to liability insurance termination notification within 10 days License plate revocation
Restoration fee $50

The state will know whether you’re covered, because insurance companies are required to submit certificates of insurance (Form FS-1) to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles either electronically or via fax. Additionally, you’ll need to carry proof of auto insurance with you, either in the form of a physical ID card or a digital one accessible through your insurer’s website or mobile app.1

How to Appeal Fines

To dispute your misdemeanor fine after you’ve been found guilty in district court of driving without insurance, you can appeal to the Superior Court for a jury trial within 10 days of your conviction by using a motion for appropriate relief.2 The court will appoint you an attorney if you don’t hire a private lawyer, but you’ll have to file the motion yourself. If you are still found guilty or the case is thrown out of the Superior Court, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals.

Here are some potential reasons you can file a motion for appropriate relief, according to North Carolina Statutes § 15A-1415:

  • You did not violate criminal law.
  • The conviction violated the U.S. or North Carolina Constitution.
  • The law has changed, and retroactive application of the new law is required.

How to Get Insurance After a Lapse

Getting insurance after a lapse means comparing quotes from multiple providers and finding a company that will accept you as a lapsed customer and offer you rates you can afford. Call to shop the market with just one quick conversation.


Unlike many states, North Carolina doesn’t require SR-22s, forms that prove you have the minimum amount of insurance the state requires after a license or registration reinstatement. That’s a good thing, as filing SR-22s can be costly.

Minimum Coverage

To avoid the entire legal process, always carry at least the minimum car insurance North Carolina requires.

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability coverage: $25,000 per accident
  • Uninsured/underinsured bodily injury liability coverage: $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident
  • Uninsured/underinsured property damage liability coverage: $25,000 per accident3


Uninsured motorist coverage includes hit-and-runs — accidents where you don’t know the identity of the at-fault driver. In North Carolina in 2021, there were 77 fatal hit-and-run crashes, making up 5 percent of all fatal crashes, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

High-Risk Drivers

Car insurance is more expensive for high-risk drivers in every state — and you’ll be considered a high-risk driver if you have a lapse in insurance. High-risk drivers also include everyone from people with bad driving records to those with very little driving experience in the U.S., like people living in the U.S. without legal permission, or teen drivers.

If you’re having trouble finding cheap auto insurance in North Carolina as a high-risk driver, companies will place you in a high-risk reinsurance facility, guaranteeing coverage.

Coverage Minimum limit Maximum limit
Bodily injury liability Per person: $30,000

Per accident: $60,000

Per person: $100,000

Per accident: $300,000

Property damage liability Per accident: $25,000 Per accident: $50,000
Medical payments coverage (MedPay) $1,000 Per person: $2,000
Underinsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage n/a Per person: $1 million

Per accident: $1 million

Uninsured bodily injury liability coverage n/a Per person: $1 million

Per accident: $1 million

Uninsured property damage liability coverage (includes $100 deductible) n/a Per accident: $50,000


MedPay is not available for motorcycles.4


Driving without insurance? You won’t be able to register your car, as registering a vehicle in North Carolina requires proof of insurance. Here’s a list of the documents you’ll need when you register your vehicle at your local DMV.

  • Vehicle title 
  • MVR-1 Title Application:
  • MVR-180 Odometer Disclosure (if your vehicle is less than 10 years old):
  • North Carolina driver’s license or valid out-of-state driver’s license: If you have an out-of-state license, you will need a temporary North Carolina driver’s license via
  • Proof of liability insurance coverage from a North Carolina insurer


Driving without car insurance in North Carolina isn’t worth it. Not only will you face a potential license suspension and fees, but if you are involved in an accident you caused, you’ll be responsible out of pocket for all of the property damages and medical bills of everyone involved.

And due to the state’s contributory negligence laws, if you’re at fault at all in an accident, even just 1 percent, you won’t be able to receive compensation in a civil suit. Paying for insurance now could save you thousands down the line.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the grace period for car insurance in North Carolina?

If you are caught driving without insurance in North Carolina, the state will send you a liability insurance termination notification. From there, you have 10 days from the date printed on the notice to respond, notifying the state that you have purchased the minimum coverage it requires. If you don’t respond within this 10-day period, you’ll face a license revocation and fees of $50 to $150 for driving without insurance, plus a $50 license restoration fee, according to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.

Do you need insurance if you have a license but no car in North Carolina?

You do not need insurance if you have a license but no car in North Carolina. Car insurance follows the car, not the driver. If you drive someone else’s car with permission, their insurance would cover you, most likely.

What happens if the person at fault in an accident has no insurance in North Carolina?

If the person at fault in an accident has no insurance in North Carolina, they’d be financially responsible out of pocket for all of the property damage and medical costs of all parties outside of their car, as well as their own. Additionally, the no-fault party could sue them in civil court for compensation.

Can you sue an uninsured driver in North Carolina?

You can sue an uninsured driver in North Carolina if you had 0 percent fault in the accident, in accordance with the state’s contributory negligence laws.


  1. Article 13. The Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act of 1957. North Carolina Legislature. (1957).

  2. Traffic Violations. North Carolina Judicial Branch. (2023).

  3. Insurance Requirements. The Official North Carolina DMV Website. (2023).

  4. A CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE. North Carolina Department of Insurance, Mike Causey, Commissioner. (2023).