Financial Responsibility


Ohio Financial Responsibility Law

If You Don't Have Vehicle Insurance, You Can't Drive in Ohio!

In Ohio, it is illegal to drive any motor vehicle without insurance or other financial responsibility (FR) proof.  It is also illegal for any motor vehicle owner to allow anyone else to drive the owner's vehicle without FR proof.


Section 4509.101 of the Ohio Revised Code prohibits a individual from operating a motor vehicle in Ohio without maintaining proof of FR continuously throughout the registration period with respect to that vehicle, or, in the case of a driver who is not the owner, with respect to that driver's operation of that vehicle.  The law requires financial responsibility in the minimum amount of $12,500 for bodily injury to or death of one (1) individual in any one (1) accident, $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of two (2) or more individuals in any one (1) accident, and $7,500 for injury to the property of others in any one (1) accident.

Financial Responsibility Topics

         Financial Responsibility Requirements

         Verification Of Proof Of Financial Responsibility

         Ways To Provide Satisfactory Proof Of Financial Responsibility

         Financial Responsibility Violator Penalties

         Random Verification Of Financial Responsibility

         When You Are Involved In An Automobile Crash

         Financial Responsibility Contact Information

Financial Responsibility Requirements

To comply with the FR requirements, Individuals must maintain one (1) of the following:

         A motorist liability insurance policy.  Insurance cards are issued by an insurer to the policy holder for each motor vehicle insured under a motor vehicle liability insurance policy;

         A $30,000 bond issued by an authorized surety or insurance company;

         A certificate of proof of financial responsibility signed by an insurance agent on a form prescribed by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) for the filing of an accident report;

         A certificate issued by the BMV indicating that money or government bonds in the amount of $30,000 is on deposit with the Treasurer of State;

         A certificate of bond issued by the BMV in the amount of $30,000 signed by two (2) individuals who own real estate having equity of at least $60,000;

         A certificate of self-insurance issued by the BMV to those with more than 25 motor vehicles registered in their name or a company's name.

Verification of Proof of Financial Responsibility

Ohio's FR law requires every applicant for registration of a motor vehicle and every applicant for a driver's license, or the renewal of such license, to sign a statement indicating that the applicant maintains, or has maintained proof of financial responsibility at the time of application, and the applicant will not operate a motor vehicle in Ohio without maintaining proof of financial responsibility.


Proof of financial responsibility is required to be verified under the following circumstances:

         When an individual or a motor vehicle owned by the individual is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in bodily injury to or death of any individual or more than $400 of property damage and a complaint is filed with the BMV alleging that the driver or owner was uninsured at the time of the accident.  The law permits the driver of any motor vehicle "which is in any manner involved" in such an accident to forward, within six months of the accident, a written report to the Registrar alleging that a driver or owner of any other vehicle involved in the accident was uninsured at the time of the accident. The BMV must send notice of the allegation to that driver and owner. Within 30 days after the mailing of the notice, the driver or owner must forward a report and acceptable proof of financial responsibility to the BMV.

         When an individual receives a traffic ticket indicating that proof of the maintenance of financial responsibility was not produced upon the request of a peace officer or State Highway Patrol trooper during the enforcement of Ohio traffic laws or during a motor vehicle inspection.  The individual must submit proof to the traffic violations bureau with payment of a fine and costs for the ticketed violation or, if the individual is to appear in court for the ticketed violation, the individual must submit proof to the court.

         Whenever an individual is found guilty of a violation of a traffic offense that requires a court appearance.  The court must require the individual to verify the existence, at the time of the offense, of proof of financial responsibility covering the individual's operation of the motor vehicle or covering the motor vehicle if registered in the individual's name.

         Whenever an individual is randomly selected by the BMV and requested to provide financial responsibility verification.

Ways to Provide Satisfactory Proof of Financial Responsibility

When law enforcement officers request FR proof and the motorist cannot provide satisfactory proof at such time, they are given a notice explaining the options to provide such proof:

         Sending a copy (document displaying satisfactory evidence of FR) when paying the fine;

         Bringing FR proof when appearing in traffic court;

         Sending FR proof when requested by the BMV.

Failure to comply with proof of FR will initiate a suspension process through the BMV.


Financial Responsibility Violator Penalties

The suspension of a person's operating privileges for violation of the FR law is generally not subject to any exemption.  However, a first-time violator of the FR law may petition the BMV for occupational driving privileges if the suspension "seriously affects the person's ability to continue employment."  Occupational driving privileges may be granted if the following conditions are met:

         The person has filed current proof of financial responsibility with the BMV;

         The person has not had a license or commercial driver's license suspended within the previous five (5) years for repeated traffic offenses;

         The person has not been convicted of any criminal or traffic violation within the previous five (5) years for which six points are assessed under the Driver's License Law;

         The person's license is not subject to suspension for any other reason;

         The person has paid or secured all damages caused while driving without proof of financial responsibility;

         The person has paid all applicable financial responsibility reinstatement fees or financial responsibility non-voluntary compliance fees;

Such occupational driving privileges cannot be granted during the first 30 days of the person's license suspension.  Additionally, the Law requires that proof of financial responsibility be continuously maintained with the BMV for five (5) years from the date the person's operating privileges were suspended.


Failure to verify proof of financial responsibility at the time and in the manner described above results, until certain conditions are met, in the following civil penalties imposed by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles:

         Lose driver's license for at least 30 days and up to one (1) year;

         No driving privileges during suspension (at least 30 days, and up to 90 days);

         License plates and vehicle registration suspension;

         License plate reinstatement fees of $75 for first violation, $250 for second violation, and $500 for a third or subsequent violation;

         Paying a $50 penalty for failing to surrender the license, plates or vehicle registration to the BMV;

         Require filing with the BMV to continuously maintain proof of financial responsibility for five (5) years from the date of the suspension of operating privileges;

         Vehicle immobilization and confiscation of plates for 30 to 60 days for violating FR suspension.  Third and subsequent offenses could result in vehicle forfeiture and a five (5) year suspension of vehicle registrations.

Failure to maintain proof of financial responsibility results in civil penalties imposed by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, including suspension of the motor vehicle owner's rights to register the vehicle and suspension of the driving privileges of the vehicle's owner and operator; such registration rights and operating privileges cannot be reinstated until certain conditions are met.


Random Verification of Financial Responsibility

Ohio the law requires verification of proof of financial responsibility whenever a person is "randomly selected" by the BMV and requested to provide such verification.  This process includes the mailing of letters to a random selection of five percent (5%) of registered Ohio vehicle and noncommercial truck owners.  Approximately 5,400 notices are generated per week or 280,000 notices annually.


The BMV is required to send written notice by regular mail to the owner of each vehicle randomly selected, informing the owner that proof showing financial responsibility coverage was in effect on the date specified must be submitted within 21 days of the mailing of the notice.  This notification is sent to the person at the person's last known address as shown on the records of the BMV.


The owner may submit evidence to show that the vehicle is exempt because the vehicle:

         Is used on a seasonal basis only and the date specified is out of season for that vehicle;

         Is inoperable or has been out of service for a period of at least 30 days immediately prior to the selection date or;

         Is exempt for any other reason the BMV may prescribe.

The procedures for requiring verification of proof of financial responsibility by random selection are as follows:

         First notice of suspension.  If the vehicle owner, within that 21-day period, fails to respond, fails to give acceptable evidence that the vehicle is exempt, or fails to give acceptable proof of financial responsibility, the BMV must order the suspension of the person's license and the impoundment of the person's certificate of registration and license plates, effective no less than 56 days after the date of the mailing of notice of suspension. The notice must be in writing and sent to the person at the person's last known address as shown on the BMV's records.

         Second notice of suspension.  If, within 21 days after the date of the mailing of the notice of suspension, the Registrar does not receive proof or acceptable evidence that the vehicle is exempt, the BMV must send a second notice of suspension to the person by certified mail return receipt requested. (If the first notice of suspension is returned as not deliverable, the BMV is required to make reasonable efforts to determine whether the owner's address has changed before sending the second notice.) The second notice is to contain the same suspension date as the original notice of suspension, unless the Registrar determines that a different suspension date is necessary to give the person adequate notice.

         Suspension effective.  If the BMV does not receive acceptable proof and the person does not give acceptable evidence that the vehicle is exempt, the BMV is to permit the order of the suspension of the license and the impoundment of the certificate of registration and license plates to take effect.

         Hearing.  A person adversely affected by an order of the BMV may request an administrative hearing with the BMV.  The scope of the hearing is limited to (1) whether the vehicle is exempt and (2) whether the person in fact demonstrated to the Registrar proof of financial responsibility. The person must pay the cost of the hearing if the Registrar's order of suspension or impoundment is upheld.

         Reinstatement by a deputy registrar.  A person whose license has been suspended for failure to respond to a random verification request may present at the office of any deputy registrar proof that the person had financial responsibility coverage on the date specified by the Registrar. If the proof is acceptable and the person is not under any other suspensions, the deputy registrar must reissue the person's driver's license and vehicle registration upon payment of the applicable statutory fees other than the reinstatement fee.

When Involved In An Automobile Crash

If you are involved in an auto crash without insurance or other FR proof, additional penalties may apply. You may have a security suspension for two (2) years or more and a judgment suspension for seven (7) years.


If you are involved in a crash in which any party is injured or property damages exceed $400, you may file a BMV Crash Report (form BMV 3303). This is regardless of who was at fault. You should contact your insurance agent as soon as possible.  This form is not the same as the report taken by law enforcement officers at the crash scene.  In addition, you may file a Crash Report if you know or have reason to believe that the other party was uninsured.


You should have your mechanic document any damage to your vehicle, and your insurance company attest to your insurance coverage. Also supply as much information as you have on the other party such as name, social security number, address, driver license number, plate number, make and model of car. Through the vehicle crash report, the Bureau will determine if the other party has insurance. If the other party is not insured, a letter of suspension will be sent to them. If the other party caused the damages, they may have their license suspended until they pay (or until they make arrangements to pay) your damages.

For More Financial Responsibility Information Contact:

Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Safety Responsibility Division
P.O. Box 16583
Columbus, Ohio 43216-6583
(614) 752-7700