Mandatory Insurance Laws in Illinois – Part 1

Every city in Illinois, from Chicago to Arlington Heights to Joliet is governed by the State’s Mandatory Insurance laws. Basically, the Illinois Secretary of State trusts that its citizens are in compliance and have valid insurance on their vehicles that meet basic policy limits. Normally, our DMV (Illinois Secretary of State) doesn’t take part in any procedure to confirm whether or not you’re properly insured. But if at some point something happens that brings to their attention that you don’t have the proper insurance in place, you’ll then be in danger of having your driver’s license suspended.

How Does the Illinois Secretary of State Learn That I have No Insurance?

The most typical way that the Illinois DMV learns that you have failed to keep the proper car insurance in place is as a result of a no-insurance ticket being issued to you by the Chicago Police or some other police department. As you drive down the street, the police have no way of knowing whether you’re insured or not. It’s not indicated on your driver’s license, on your driving record (abstract) or elsewhere on their computer systems. They need “probable cause” to even ask you this question typically. They can’t just pull you over to ask you about this without some other proper reason.

A valid reason to pull you over can be for virtually any infraction of the Illinois Vehicle Code (ILCS) however. It could be for something as serious as a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge or for Driving on a Revoked or Suspended License, but it could also be for something as minor as speeding or improper lane usage. It’s also a pretty common circumstance that you may not have even been pulled over for committing any infraction at all. Say that you’re in a car accident that’s quite clearly not your fault. For example, maybe a drunk driver ran into your car from behind while you were stopped at a red light. Even though the Chicago Police officer that arrived on the scene clearly knows this wasn’t your fault, he or she is still going to ask you for proof of insurance and car registration, because in any situation when you’re being questioned or pulled over for any valid reason, the police will normally also ask you for these things, just like on television. –And this is when things can get complicated if you can’t provide proof of such insurance.

Will I Go to Jail for a No Insurance Ticket?

A Driving without Proof of Insurance ticket (also known as a 3-707 offense) is a serious violation, although it’s not the type of ticket that will usually result in jail. No matter how many of these tickets you get, you’re probably not going to go to jail unless the accident involved serious injury to another. For a first conviction, it is considered a “business offense” which is not very serious, although if you’ve been convicted more than twice before and serious bodily injury resulted to another person, it can be a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by up to a year in jail. But in either event, such a traffic ticket can still seriously interfere with your ability to drive and can suspend your driver’s license anywhere from three months to a very, very long time.

What Should I do if I get Arrested or Ticketed?

If you were issued a No Insurance ticket, you’ll need to go to court to take care of it. Never ignore your court date on a ticket like this. If you fail to appear, a conviction will enter and when the DMV learns of it, you’ll receive what’s called an “MC suspension” which will suspend your right to drive. If your automobile was legitimately covered by insurance at the time that the ticket was given to you by the police (but you just didn’t have the card proving this with you or it wasn’t easily accessible on that day), court will be a simple matter. You’ll just provide proof that the insurance was in place, and your case will be dismissed without any fines – easy and quick.

Contact an Experienced Traffic Attorney

But if it’s true that you weren’t covered by an insurance policy at the time of your police contact, the very first thing that you should do is to contact an experienced attorney, such as the attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. We can be reached 24 hours a day at (312) 644-0444. Our legal team can guide you through the proper steps necessary to protect your driving privileges in the best manner possible. Every case is different, so until you speak to one of our lawyers, you may wish to wait until you receive some legal advice. Usually, we’ll tell you to go and get insurance before court. That’s because when you’ve been caught driving without proof of insurance as required by the State of Illinois, you should (at the very least) be able to show the Judge at court that you’ve fixed the problem. When defendants appear in court and they still don’t have any insurance in place, it sends a message to the Judge and the State’s Attorney that he or she just doesn’t care. So, get insurance, even if it’s too late.