What is my potential liability for a car accident that I wasn’t insuredfor and the wrong license plates were on the car?

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What is my potential liability for a car accident that I wasn’t insuredfor and the wrong license plates were on the car?

I only had a permit and I was driving alone. I wasn’t on the insurance plan and to top it off the tags belonged to my brother’s car. The officer only gave me a ticket for expired plates and I have worked out a deal with the owner of the property where I did some damage. He’s already been paid. Should I worry? Or should I be expecting just a hefty fine. I’m 20 and this would be my first ever offense

Asked on December 1, 2011 under Accident Law, Indiana

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding a traffic ticket for expired tags on your vehicle.  It seems that you indeed lucked out that the officer did not write you a ticket for driving without insurance or a proper driver’s license.  While all states will vary regarding their motor vehicle laws for this type of incident, most states would allow a police officer to confiscate the vehicle.  Many states would have the officer, not only impound your vehicle, but also seize your vehicle’s tags.  In addition, you would be fined heavily.  While this traffic ticket alone could be serious, the penalties are usually more severe if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and do not have proper car insurance or a valid driver’s license. 

The fine for expired tags is usually minimal.  Additionally, most states will give a grace period to get your tags updated and mail in your fine.  Some people would appear in court to fight the fine for the expired tags and ask the judge for time to correct their tags, but if you have other legal issues that could arise; you may not want to attempt to discuss this with the judge. 

Lastly, if the other driver already has their vehicle fixed, then you are probably out of the clear with regard to damage to their vehicle.  If they no longer have damages, then they cannot contact their insurance company to write an estimate for the cost of the repairs, when the damage is no longer visible.  However, in an effort to be cautious, be sure to keep all of your paperwork documenting the amount you paid to the other driver for repairs to their vehicle.

 


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