"Don't Mess with Texas" is the slogan that applies to breaking many laws in Texas. The penalties can be serious, especially if you have no car insurance. Texas law imposes severe penalties on those issued a citation for driving without a car insurance policy, as well as surcharges and more. It is wiser to pay the cost of car insurance than to risk the fines, surcharges and incidental fees that result from driving without it.
According to the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act in the Texas Transportation Code 601, a first conviction for driving without car insurance will be a fine ranging in amount from $175 to $350. This does not include the down payment for the car insurance policy you will have to maintain in order to continue driving. Insurance down payments normally range from $100 to $1200. If convicted a subsequent time, the fine goes up to between $350 and $1,000. You may have your driver's license suspended and you car could be impounded resulting in incidental fees of several hundred more dollars.
If you cause a wreck and are not insured, you will have to obtain SR-22 on your car insurance policy, which will significantly raise your car insurance rates and remain on your driving record for three years. An SR-22 is not an insurance policy. An SR-22 is a form filled out by your insurance company proving to Texas and the DMV that you have purchased an insurance policy that adheres to Texas' minimum liability insurance requirements. If your car insurance lapses or you fail to make payments and your car insurance policy is terminated during the period you are required to carry an SR-22, your insurance company is required to contact the DMV, and your driver's license may be revoked or suspended. Again, more fees and fines will be incurred. If you continue to drive under these circumstances and are deemed responsible for a wreck, you are financially responsible for all damages and injuries and may receive jail time. You could also be sued in a personal lawsuit.
The financial penalties for driving without car insurance are steeper than just the fines. In 2004, the Texas Legislature passed a law under the Texas Driver Responsibility Program granting the state of Texas the right to charge an additional surcharge on many traffic violations - including getting caught with no car insurance. The surcharge is in addition to the fine the court imposes and is $250 per year for three years.
Texas law requires drivers to be able to pay for any accidents they cause. "Don't mess with Texas" is more than a slogan, it's a warning for drivers to always have car insurance coverage.