4 Questions About Driving a Car With a Suspended Registration

If you're caught driving a car with a suspended registration or no registration at all, you could be in serious trouble. You could face fines or even jail time.

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UPDATED: May 18, 2022

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Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Joel OhmanUPDATED: May 18, 2022Fact Checked

Here's what you need to know...

  • It’s illegal to not have your vehicle registered
  • The cause of the suspended registration affects what penalties are assigned
  • If you bounced a check to your DMV, that suspension is easy to reverse
  • If you have no insurance so your registration is suspended, you could face serious fines

In the United States, driving is a privilege that comes with a lot of responsibility. Like it or not, one of these responsibilities is making sure your vehicles are properly registered and insured at all times.

If you’re caught driving driving on suspended registration, or no registration at all, you could be in for some serious trouble depending on your circumstances.

How severely you are penalized will depend on why your registration was suspended and what you were doing when you were pulled over.

Because vehicle registrations can be so vastly different from one state to the next, it’s nearly impossible to say exactly what will happen if you drive with a suspended registration.

What we can say is that states consider this more serious than most drivers do. There are fines in place, as well as other appropriate penalties where applicable.

Obviously, you must get caught first, but you should never drive with a suspended registration to begin with.

Before you even register your car, be sure to shop for car insurance rates online by entering your ZIP code in the box below.

#1 What if my registration was suspended due to lack of insurance?

In most states, driving with suspended registration is the most serious violation of motor vehicle traffic law where registration is concerned. Automobile insurance laws are very strict in order to protect other drivers on the road.

Therefore, if your registration has been suspended for lack of insurance, you are considered an extremely high risk to other drivers.

If you’re caught driving under this scenario, you will most likely face a minimum one-year suspension of your driver’s license, plus other penalties and fines.

Furthermore, you’ll need to procure insurance and provide proof to the DMV before it will remove the suspension from your registration.

You may be required to wait a specific amount of time from the date of insurance before your registration will be returned to normal status.

Furthermore, you may also have points added to your license as a penalty for driving with a suspended registration.

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#2 – What if my registration was suspended for a bad check?

Bouncing a check is not generally considered a crime unless the offender does so knowingly.

Therefore, as long as a bad check written to the DMV was a legitimate accident, you should be able to lift the suspension of your registration simply by making good on the check.

You can do so by going down to your DMV with cash or a money order. With today’s computerized records system, you should once again be good to go before you even leave the DMV.

Be aware that many states will require you to pay future fees using cash or money orders because of a bad check. Sometimes this restriction can be as short as one year, while in other states it may last several years.

Regardless, as long as you make good on the money you owe, you should have no problem reestablishing your registration.

If you fail to do so, and you get caught driving with a suspended registration, you will most likely be fined and have points added to your license.

#3 – How does being caught with suspended registration affect my car insurance?

The good news is that being caught with a suspended registration is not considered a serious violation by insurance companies. The bad news lies in the fact that it is still a violation, nonetheless.

Depending on the reasons why your registration was suspended, your insurance company will adjust your rates accordingly.

For example, if your registration was suspended due to a DWI/DUI, your insurance rates will already be higher. Throw in a suspended registration and they will be raised again.

If your suspended registration is simply a matter of a bad check, the increase in your insurance rates will be minimal.

Fortunately, regardless of the reason for your suspended registration, your insurance rates will once again go down if you maintain a clean record from that point forward. Expect:

  • One to two years for minor infractions
  • Five to seven years for major ones

#4 – Can I still drive with a suspended registration?

The simple answer to that question is yes. But the caveat is that you cannot drive the car for which the registration has been suspended. In other words, you can not drive your own car without a valid registration document. But there is nothing to stop you from driving your spouse’s car during the suspension term.

In most cases, you’ll probably be eligible to rent a car temporarily if your friends and family don’t have a car you can borrow.

Insurance companies make car insurance quotes available online; simply enter your ZIP code right now to see them.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

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