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What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Utah?

Utah law requires any person operating a motor vehicle on Utah roads to have insurance. Although driving without insurance is often referred to as a "traffic violation" in Utah, it is in fact a criminal charge requiring a mandatory court appearance and penalties can include a maximum of up to 180 days in jail and $1,900 in fines (including surcharge). You may also be required to carry SR22 insurance if you have been convicted of driving without insurance in Utah. Because the consequences of a conviction for driving without insurance can be serious, it is important to consult with an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer regarding your options.

Driving without insurance can mean a criminal conviction in Utah.

Driving without insurance in Utah is a class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum penalty of up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 plus a 90% surcharge. The maximum penalty is seldom imposed. For a first offense, a judge is more likely to follow the Utah uniform bail schedule, and impose a fine accordingly. For a second offense, the bail schedule recommends a higher fine. But the judge may impose a higher amount if the court determines that the circumstances justify harsher punishment.

Although it may be tempting to discount the severity of a no insurance ticket, it is a criminal charge that brings with it all of the protections guaranteed by our Federal and State constitutions. You are entitled to a presumption of innocence and a trial by jury if you are charged with driving without insurance.

Just because you are charged with driving without insurance does not mean you are guilty. Some cases are filed simply because a driver did not have an insurance card in the vehicle. If you are charged but actually had insurance in effect at the time, you are not guilty.  

Actually having insurance is a complete defense to a charge of not having "proof" of insurance.

In addition to a criminal charge for driving without insurance, the Utah legislature has also created a separate criminal offense for not having proof of insurance in your vehicle while driving. If you actually had insurance, but didn't have proof of insurance with you may still be charged with not having proof of insurance. But if you can present proof of actually having insurance in effect at the time of the alleged offense, that may be a complete defense to the charge.

The fines and penalties in Utah for having no proof of insurance are essentially the same as those for driving without insurance. If you cannot present proof of actually having insurance at the time, you may be subject to jail time and substantial fines. The burden of proof will be on you to demonstrate that you actually had insurance at the time. In the negotiations stage, a letter from your insurance company stating that your insurance policy was in effect and current at the time may be sufficient to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case. But if the case is set for trial, you should be prepared to present formal proof in compliance with all of the rules of evidence and other criminal procedural rules under Utah law.

A conviction for no insurance may prevent expungement of other more serious charges.

A ticket for no insurance or no proof of insurance may be commonly referred to as a "traffic" offense. But under Utah expungement law, these charges are not considered "traffic offenses" but are instead treated as criminal convictions for the purpose of determining expungement eligibility.

The Utah Expungement Act does make exceptions for many traffic offenses under the Utah Motor Vehicle Code, Title 41 Chapter 6a. But the statutes governing criminal charges for no insurance and no proof of insurance are found in Chapter 12 of the Utah Motor Vehicle Act, and therefore do not come under the "traffic offense" exception in determining expungement eligibility.

Thus, in some cases, a person may be denied eligibility for expungement based on what may otherwise be considered a minor traffic offense. If you find yourself facing a denial of your request for a certificate of eligibility for expungement from BCI, an experienced criminal attorney may be able to help you restore your eligibility.

Choose the right criminal defense attorney to help you.

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerIf you are charged with a crime in Utah, you should speak with an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney. Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in literally thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor charges, ranging from the most serious aggravated charges to DUI and virtually everything in between.

We understand that many people facing traffic-related criminal charges may not want to take their cases to trial, but are instead looking to find a quick resolution for the charges. We work with clients to develop a cost-effective strategy for dealing with the  His track record includes not guilty verdicts or dismissals for charges including aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, fraud, drug distribution, DUI, and many more.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation for your case.

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