Driving without a license in the state of Michigan is a serious offense. Whether you never got a license or had yours suspended or revoked, it’s against Michigan law to drive without a license.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still take a chance and drive without a license every day. In fact, a 2018 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that roughly 20% of all car accidents involve a person who doesn’t have a license. That study also found that almost 3% of all drivers in the United States are driving illegally without a license.

Driving without a license is taking a chance that can be punishable by fines and/or time in jail. In Michigan, if you’re driving without a valid license, you can face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $50-$100 for your first offense. If you’re driving and your license is either suspended or revoked, you could face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

While it’s certainly not advisable to drive without a license, people do it for any number of reasons.

One question many people have is what happens if you are in a car accident and you don’t have a license. While such a situation certainly won’t be peachy, it doesn’t have to be devastating, either. Here’s how to handle a car accident if you don’t have a license.

The Reason Matters

Not all cases involving driving without a license are the same. If you’ve never obtained a driver’s license, that’s much different than if you’re driving with a suspended or revoked license. The eyes of the law in Michigan approach those cases differently.

You’ll likely be treated much more harshly if you’re driving with a suspended or revoked license. That’s because the state has removed your driving privileges for one reason or another. It could be you had too many DUIs. Or you’ve had too many other driving charges.

It’ll also look work if this isn’t your first offense for driving without a license. If you’re a repeat offender, you’re likely to face increasing penalties.

If you’re involved in an accident and don’t have a license, it’ll be hard to escape without legal penalty. For first offenses, you’ll most likely be given a citation that will come with a fine and a court date. For repeat offenders, you could be subject to arrest and time spent in jail.

Your License Situation is Separate from the Accident

An important thing to understand is that not having a driver’s license doesn’t automatically make you liable for damages in an auto accident. Michigan is a “no-fault” state. This mean each driver’s auto insurance pays for their medical bills regardless of who caused the accident. It’s why drivers in Michigan are required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP).

It’s possible that you could have auto insurance but not a driver’s license. If you failed to renew your license on time, for instance, it would lapse and you’d technically not have a license. In this case, your auto insurance wouldn’t automatically lapse, too.

In this case, you would go through the same process as if you had a valid license. Your auto insurance company would still be responsible for covering any damages or injuries you sustained.

If you don’t have auto insurance, then it would default to whoever owns the car you were driving. If you borrowed the car from a friend, for example, their auto insurance company would be responsible for picking up the costs.

Because of this, it’s important to take the same steps following an accident in regard to information collection, evidence collection and reporting to the insurance company. You’ll still be covered even if you don’t have a driver’s license.

Obtain a Driver’s License Soon After

If you’ve been in an accident and don’t have a driver’s license, use the situation as a wake-up call. Soon after you’ve been in an accident, figure out how to rectify the situation.

If you’ve never had a license before, go through the steps of obtaining one so that you won’t find yourself in a similar situation again. If there are financial reasons why you can’t get a license yet, simply don’t drive until you can get one.

If your license has been suspended or revoked, try to see if you can resolve that situation, too. Your ability to do so may be dictated by legal authorities. In that case, you’ll simply have to follow what is being required of you before getting your license back.

Making an effort to obtain a legal driver’s license following an accident will help you look better in the eyes of auto insurance companies as you search for a policy once you’re a legal driver. It certainly won’t look good to have an accident on your driving record without a license. But, if you make the effort to fix the situation as quickly as possible, you could improve your standing with potential insurance companies.

Work with a Trusted Insurance Partner

Being in a car accident is never a fun situation. It’s especially worrisome if you don’t have a driver’s license, though.

If you find yourself in this situation, you will likely have legal challenges to face. But, remember that not having a license does not automatically preclude you from being covered by your insurance company — or obtaining proper insurance in the future.

Following an accident, try your best to obtain a legal driver’s license so you don’t find yourself in this situation again. Then, contact the professionals at Signature Insurance.

We have years of experience covering all sorts of drivers in Michigan. We can help you get affordable auto insurance, even if you’ve been in an accident without a driver’s license. Contact us today for a free quote.