The MVA insurance lapse statute of limitations is unlimited (Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration penalties for driving uninsured are not subject to a statute of limitations). Because MVA insurance lapse charges are penalties owed to the state, not private debts, drivers can continue to be penalized for failing to pay after more than three years – the standard statute of limitations for debts in Maryland. In fact, Maryland is notorious for sending bills for driving without insurance years after the lapse. Uninsured drivers in Maryland can have fees assessed, have their license plates confiscated, and/or be prohibited from registering another vehicle until all debts have been paid.
Failing to address fines can have serious consequences, especially since unpaid debts are transferred to the Central Collection Unit (CCU). The CCU is the State of Maryland's debt collection agency, and it's important to note that it has a broader range of powers than a private agency. If you don't pay your fines, the CCU can intercept your tax refund and subtract your outstanding balance. Even if you have insurance now, if you previously drove uninsured, you violated the law at that time and can be penalized accordingly.
With that being said, you have several options if you've been fined by the MVA for an insurance lapse and are wondering about the statute of limitations.
Responding to MVA Insurance Lapse Fines
- If the notice was issued in error, contact the MVA and try to provide proof that you had insurance or no longer had the car at the time. Some drivers have noted that insurance companies don't retain records forever, so if your insurer doesn't have your paperwork anymore, look for alternate proof or have your insurer contact the MVA. For example, if you sold the car in question or moved to another state, provide the deed of sale or an out-of-state registration.
- If you did not have insurance during the relevant period, pay the fine or establish a payment plan within your budget. If you are still uninsured, remember that the MVA fine increases daily after the first 30-day period, so it's best to take immediate action.
- Look for debt forgiveness opportunities, like the 2019 Fine Fix program. Through this program, Maryland residents could have 80% of their uninsured driving fines forgiven. Drivers could only sign up from July through December of 2019, but keeping an eye out for similar programs in the future could help your wallet.
- Lying about your insurance history is never smart, particularly since Maryland might require a so-called FR-19 form as proof of insurance if its records indicate you don't have coverage. Insurance companies need to file an FR-19 for you, meaning you can't easily avoid this requirement. Plus, providing false evidence of insurance can even result in jail time, so it's best to contact the MVA to dispute or pay the fees.
Drivers who received MVA insurance lapse notices have reported the most success with these tactics, rather than ignoring the notice. But if you're struggling to pay for car insurance, you should also compare the best cheap car insurance policies in Maryland.