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Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance in Alberta

In Alberta, you’re expected to insure your car the moment you buy your vehicle and to get the job done before you even drive the car off the lot. Even a parked car is supposed to be insured if that car is parked on any public road, private road, alley, or parking lot. You won’t be ticketed for having an uninsured car parked in your own garage, but that vehicle is still a liability.

The Traffic Safety Act states:

51(1) Except as otherwise permitted under this Act, a person shall not do any of the following:

  1. Drive a motor vehicle on a highway unless the motor vehicle is an insured motor vehicle
  2. Have a motor vehicle on the highway unless the motor vehicle is an insured motor vehicle
  3. Where a person is the registered owner of a motor vehicle, permit another person 
    1. To drive the motor vehicle on a highway, or
    2. To have the motor vehicle on the highway, unless the motor vehicle is an insured motor vehicle.

If you get into an accident, the penalties for driving without insurance can be even steeper.

What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Alberta?

The penalties are steep. You face fines. If you can’t pay the fines, you face jail time.

For a first offense, the minimum fine is a hefty $2,875. The maximum fine is $10,000. If you don’t have that kind of money lying around you can spend 45 days to 6 months in jail. 

If you’re caught driving without insurance a second time within a 5-year period of your first offense then you face a minimum fine of $5,000 and a maximum fine of $20,000. Can’t pay the second time? You’ll get 60 days to 6 months in jail.

Bottom line: if you can’t afford to purchase auto insurance then you cannot afford to drive.

Read Also: High Risk Auto Insurance in Canada

What else happens if I’m caught driving without insurance?

When you try to rectify the situation by purchasing a new insurance policy, or when you go to renew a lapsed one, you’ll pay steeper premiums. You might even have a hard time getting an insurer to approve your application at all. 

When you do find a policy, your rates may go up by as much as 48%. You’ll be considered a high-risk driver. 

There are companies that deal exclusively with high-risk drivers, but none of them are cheap. If you’re looking for high-risk insurance you’ll want to find an insurance agent or broker who deals with multiple companies, one who can help you shop around to get the best possible rates out of a bad situation. 

Can I be charged for driving without insurance if the vehicle isn’t mine?

Yes. In Alberta, you are responsible for verifying that any vehicle you borrow is properly insured. 

In addition, the owner of the vehicle can also be charged, as the Traffic Safety Act does state that the registered owner of a motor vehicle may not permit another person to drive a car that they know is uninsured. 

You’re required to have proof of insurance in the vehicle, so ask your friend where to find the proof of insurance when you drive the vehicle.

If you failed to do this you can provide the Court with an insurance declarations page that shows that you were insured on the date the ticket was issued. This doesn’t guarantee the charge will be withdrawn but in most cases, it will be. 

What’s the Alberta fine for driving without registration?

Fines for driving without registration are not quite as steep, but you could still be fined $230. If you fail to pay or fail to appear in court then you could still face jail time. 

To register a vehicle in Alberta, you must provide proof of a valid insurance policy.

What happens if I get into an accident as an uninsured driver in Alberta?

You’ll be held personally responsible for all the costs of the accident. That means you could be asked to pay:

  • The medical costs of the other driver.
  • The lost wages of the other driver.
  • The lost income and earning capacity of that driver.
  • The future care costs of that driver.
  • The pain and suffering of that driver.

You may not be able to pay, but you may be forced to declare bankruptcy to avoid having your bank account garnished or your home taken to cover the costs. You may also lose your license.

Your only defense will be to prove that the accident was not your fault. This could be harder as juries, judges, and the other driver’s insurance company will be more likely to perceive you as reckless, as will the police who get the first opinion about who is at fault in an accident.

A qualified personal injury lawyer may be able to help you in this case.

What happens if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver in Alberta?

Alberta knows that most individual drivers cannot possibly pay all the costs that an injured driver will need to be covered after an accident. That’s why the Alberta Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC) exists. This program can compensate you up to a maximum of $200,000.

If your accident claim exceeds $200,000 you may be able to collect from your uninsured/underinsured portion of your insurance policy.  If you have a SEF 44 Family Protection policy that policy can cover you as well. We recommend these policies for most drivers in Alberta as they can be extremely helpful both when the other driver is uninsured and in cases where there is a hit-and-run accident. It covers you to the limit of your normal auto insurance policy.

Injured in an auto accident?

Our team of experienced and caring personal injury lawyers has a long track record of winning personal injury cases. Meeting with us is risk-free. We can tell you whether you have a strong case, can help you determine the next steps, and can deal with insurance adjusters and other individuals on your behalf. We’ve helped many residents in Cochrane and throughout Alberta do just that. 

Contact us to schedule your initial consultation today. 

Call (403) 237-9777 to get started today. 

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