California requires that all drivers and all owners of a motor vehicle must carry automobile insurance when operating a motor vehicle. The laws also require that the driver carry a valid driver’s license. If someone is involved in an auto collision without a valid driver’s license or valid auto insurance, recovery can be limited. There may also be criminal liability for failure to obey the rules of the road.

What happens if someone is involved in an auto collision and does not have auto insurance?

If someone is involved in an auto collision and does not have automobile insurance, recovery may be limited. In 1996, California passed the Limitations on Recovery to Uninsured Motorist Act that limits the recovery of automobile drivers who are involved in motor collisions and do not have auto insurance. Also known as Proposition 213, the act denies recovery for noneconomic damages, such as claims for pain and suffering. However, there are certain exceptions. For example, if the vehicle was operator for the driver’s employer, if the accident occurred on private property, or the owner of the vehicle did have insurance coverage.

Car Accident Attorney

Nevertheless, if someone was involved in an auto collision and cannot show proof of financial responsibility by purchasing liability insurance, the person involved in the auto collision can post a bond or deposit cash in the amount of $35,000.00 with the Department of Motor Vehicles. This allows the party to meet the financial responsibility requirement of the California Vehicle Code and allows full recovery. Though, this process is tedious and requires assistance from an attorney.

If the person involved is a pedestrian or a passenger in the vehicle, then Proposition 213 does not apply. There are also other exceptions if the collision resulted in a wrongful death claim, caused by a drunk driver, or if there is a claim for punitive damages. These exceptions are case specific, and a Car Accident Attorney must be able to make the determination.

What happens if someone is involved in an auto collision but does not have a driver’s license?

In California, driving without a valid driver’s license is either a misdemeanor or an infraction. This is made clear in California Vehicle Code § 12500. If charged and convicted for a misdemeanor, there can be penalties up to and including six months in jail and up to $1,000.00 in court fines. If the conviction is determined to be an infraction, the maximum penalty is $250.00.

However, not having a driver’s license itself does not impact the collision claim. They are two different claims and there is no requirement to have a driver’s license to make a claim under an insurance policy. This gets tricky only if there is no auto insurance coverage or the driver involved in the collision is explicitly excluded from the policy.

What happens if someone is involved in an auto collision but with a suspended driver’s license?

In California, driving with a suspended driver’s license is a misdemeanor. California Vehicle Code § 14601 imposes penalties such as jail time and court fines. Typically, the jail time and court fines are relative to the underlying reason of the suspension i.e. DUI.

Contact an Attorney

Insurance policies are complex. Recovery could be limited based on your coverage. If a claimant is uninsured or has a suspended driver’s license, there may also be criminal charges. It is important to Consult an Attorney in your state immediately following an incident to better understand and protect your legal rights. Do not wait, never hesitate, and reach out to a professional who is ready to serve your needs.


Location: Los Angeles, CA 91403

Consultation: Free - 60 minutes

Tel: (310) 363-0551

Email: jonathan [ at ]



Jonathan Bakhsheshian , Esq.

is an associate attorney at Ellis & Bakh, LLP where he specializes in wrongful death and catastrophic injury litigation.
He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles and earned his Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University School of Law. At Pepperdine, Jonathan was the Lead Articles Editor of the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal and a lead member of the negotiations and mediations Team. He competed in several nationwide and international negotiation and mediation competitions. Jonathan continued his studies at the number one, nationally-ranked Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and obtained his Masters in Dispute Resolution.

In addition to his classroom training, Jonathan externed for the United States District Court, Central District of California; United States Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice; Honorable Judge Robert Kwan, Bankruptcy Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California; Los Angeles Superior Court; and for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

Jonathan is dedicated to the principal and philosophy that every injured victim is entitled to the best representation, regardless of their personal financial status or complexity of their case. Jonathan prides himself on being a tough, creative, and fair legal advocate for all of his clients.




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