Wyoming is top destination for recreational hunters and nature lovers alike. But if you’re caught driving without car insurance in this idyllic state, you could find yourself in the crosshairs of the authorities on the hunt for errant drivers.
According to state law, driving without insurance is classed as a misdemeanor offense. As a result, taking this unnecessary risk won’t just result in you relinquishing your driving privileges but could also tarnish your otherwise spotless criminal record.
In Wyoming, all drivers are required to insure their vehicles with the state’s mandated minimum limits. This system is similar to other states and is divided into three categories of coverage: $25,000 for bodily injuries to one individual in one crash, $50,000 for total bodily injuries caused in an accident, and $20,000 for property damage (or 25/50/20).
This basic policy provides enough coverage to pay for bare minimum injuries and damage sustained by another party in a crash. In more severe accidents, these amounts may not be enough to protect you from financial. That’s why many motorists elect to purchase added policy features to cover different types of loss.
In this blog we will discuss:
- Penalties for driving without insurance
- SR-22 filing requirements
- License reinstatement fees
- Expunging a Driving Without Insurance misdemeanor from your criminal record
- Disputing a Driving Without Insurance conviction
- Probationary License limitations
- No fault and fault states
- Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage
- High-risk driver categories
If you are caught driving without insurance (or cannot produce proof that you are insured up to these limits), you could be subjected to some of the penalties listed below:
In some states, first-time offenders are given a warning and a slap on the wrist. But Wyoming pulls no punches, strapping virgin rulebreakers with fines, jail time, license suspensions, and SR-22 maintenance requirements.
If you are caught driving without insurance for the first time in Wyoming, you can expect these penalties:
- Fines totaling up to $750;
- Up to six months behind bars;
- SR-22 maintenance requirements for a period of three years; and
- License suspension until you are able to show the courts, state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or Department of Transport (DoT) proof you are insured.
Second, Third, and Subsequent Offenses
When it comes to serial offenders, the gloves come off in Wyoming. If you are caught driving with no insurance more than once, you can expect these penalties:
- Fines of up to $1,500;
- Prison time to be determined by the courts following conviction;
- SR-22 maintenance requirements for a period of three years;
- License suspension until you are able to show the courts, state DMV, or DoT you are insured; and
- Surrender of license plates and registration.
What Is SR-22 Filing?
Following the suspension of your license due to any serious offense – such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, causing a severe accident, committing numerous traffic violations in a short window of time, or driving with no insurance – you will be required to complete SR-22 filing requirements before your license is restored.
This requirement involves filing forms with the local DMV or DoT proving that you are insured up to the state’s minimum limits. Typically, your insurer will take care of filing these forms as part of what is known as SR-22 Insurance. This type of “insurance” is tailored to high-risk drivers. As a result, you will tend to pay far more for insurance during the SR-22 filing period.
Warning: If you let your coverage to lapse for any reason – whether you missed a payment or cancelled your policy – your insurer will have to inform the department that you are no longer insured. In this event, your driving privileges will be revoked and you will have to surrender your plates and registration. Worse still, regardless of how far you were into completing your SR-22 requirements, you will have to start the process from scratch, winding the clock back to the beginning of the three-year period.
While SR-22 Insurance is more expensive, it is the only way to continue driving while completing this process. Many motorists in this situation choose to trade out their cars for less expensive models to offset the burden of increased rates.
Can I Reinstate My License After a Driving Without Insurance Conviction?
As we’ve mentioned above, the state Department of Motor Vehicles will reinstate your driving privileges once you are able to produce reliable proof that you are covered. In addition to this evidence, you will also have to pay a reinstatement fee of $50 to restore your license. You must also fulfill SR-22 filing requirements for an uninterrupted period of three years.
However, if you were convicted for committing numerous serious offenses, you may be barred from the road for a set number of years. In these cases, either the courts or DMV will inform you of these added penalties.
Can I Have a Driving Without Insurance Misdemeanor Expunged?
Nobody wants a misdemeanor on their criminal record. Convictions for many traffic offenses – including driving with no insurance – will tarnish your standing with the law. A conviction can also sink your chances of employment in the public sector, obtaining a gun license, applying for travel VISAs, or even applying to rent an apartment. However, your fate is not set in stone. Countless Wyoming motorists have managed to expunge this conviction from their records.
How? Typically, you will have to wait up to five years until after your sentence has expired. During this time, if you have committed any other crimes, your application for expungement may be rejected.
Can I Dispute My Driving Without Insurance Conviction in Wyoming?
If you believe you were wrongfully convicted for driving without insurance, you can challenge your conviction in court. You can request a hearing by sending a written letter to the Wyoming Department of Transportation within three weeks after you received a notice of license suspension or revocation.
In some cases, you can accept the conviction but request a record review. This will ensure you retain limited driving privileges. However, take note; a request for a record review will only be successful in situations where you have a clean permanent driving record. You will need pay $15 for a record review and a further $50 in reissuance fees. In many cases, you may also need to complete SR-22 filing requirements before the license is issued. Similar to a dispute, you will have to send a written request to the department detailing the reasons why you should retain limited driving privileges.
In the event that your request is approved by the department, you can acquire what is known as a Probationary License.
What Is a Wyoming Probationary License?
Typically, a Probationary License is a limited license given to younger drivers (under the age of 21). However, if your license is suspended, you can often apply for this temporary document to retain your driving privileges with a few limitations. These limitations can differ based on the nature of your offense. In the event that you are convicted for driving without insurance, the only real drawback is the SR-22 filing requirement.
What’s the Difference Between a No Fault and Tort State?
In the U.S., states are divided into “no fault” and “tort” states. In so-called “no fault” states, drivers receive compensation from their own insurers for injuries and damages sustained in a crash regardless of who or what caused the accident. In this way, drivers can have peace of mind that their coverage will kick in to pay at least a portion of their expenses immediately in most cases. However, policies in these states tend to cost far more than in “tort” states.
In “tort” states, the driver who is at-fault is responsible for covering the losses of all other parties in a crash. For example, if a motorist is driving in the wrong lane and crashes into another vehicle, he or she will be held liable for the repair costs and medical bill of the other driver. The parties who have suffered an injury or loss would therefore file a third-party claim against the insurance company of the at-fault motorist.
In many cases, fault is not a black and white concept. It is not uncommon for claims adjusters to assign a portion of the blame to each driver involved in the accident. For example, let’s say you were hit by a reckless driver but you were also breaking the law. The claims adjuster determines that you were 20% at-fault for the collision. That means 20% of the costs would come out of your own coverage or out of pocket.
What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
It’s estimated that nearly 10% of Wyoming’s motorists are driving without insurance. That means if you’re involved in an accident, there is around a 1 in 10 chance the other motorist isn’t covered up to the state’s mandated minimum limits. Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage is your safety net in any situation involving Wyoming’s risk takers. Here’s what these policy features cover:
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): Many, if not most, drivers choose to pay for the bare minimum coverage to meet the state’s liability limits. In serious accidents, these policies will fall short of covering the costs of injuries and property damage. Investing in UIM coverage will protect you from financial loss when an at-fault motorist’s policy has limits that are too low to cover your losses.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage (UMBI): Uninsured drivers are a road hazard you might not hear about during Driver’s Ed. Fortunately, UMBI is an add-on that kicks in to cover the costs of treating injuries sustained by anyone in your vehicle (who is listed on your policy) in the event of a collision with an at-fault motorist who does not have insurance. Many UMBI policies will also cover additional expenses such as lost wages.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage (UMPD): This added feature will compensate you for any damage to your car caused by a driver with no insurance. However, if you plan to or already carry collision coverage, it’s not worth increasing your premium with UMPD as part of your policy.
Because of the low financial risk for providers, these features can be relatively inexpensive compared to most other types of coverage. We suggest investing in these add-ons if you live in states where there are a high number of uninsured drivers, such as Florida, New Mexico, Michigan, Mississippi, Arkansas, Indiana, Washington, Alabama, Tennessee, and Washington D.C.
Am I a High-Risk Driver?
The definition of a high-risk driver can differ based on context. For example, an 18-year-old driver with limited experience is classed as a higher risk driver than a middle-aged motorist with a spotless driving record. But in most cases, you will be classed as a high-risk driver if you are convicted for committing severe traffic violations such as driving under the influence, driving without insurance, or causing a serious car accident.
High-risk drivers are a financial risk for insurers because they are statistically more likely to file a claim than low-risk drivers. As a result, if you are classed as a high-risk driver, you will probably pay more for coverage.
You can reduce your premium by taking time to learn safer driving habits and avoid being involved in an accident for a few years. If you are currently completing SR-22 filing requirements, you will notice a drastic reduction in your rates once you have fulfilled this requirement. You can also net yourself discounts by driving less, attending and completing a safety driving course, investing in a car with better safety features, trimming unnecessary addons from your policy, and obtaining a higher-education degree. Ask your provider about what discounts they offer and what you can do to reduce your rates.
What Is an Auto Insurance Deductible?
In the event of an accident, your deductible represents how much you will have to pay out of pocket to cover costs of repairs and treatment for damages and injuries sustained in a crash before your auto insurance policy kicks in. Simply put, a higher deductible will keep your rates low but will put you at risk of greater financial loss after a car accident.