Vehicle Code 16028(a) VC – Proof of Financial Responsibility (Insurance)

Vehicle Code 16028(a) VC is the California statute that requires drivers to carry proof of financial responsibility in their vehicles. “Proof of financial responsibility” is also known as proof of automobile insurance. A party must show this to the police when requested to do so.

16028(a) VC states that “upon the demand of a peace officer…every person who drives a motor vehicle upon a highway shall provide evidence of financial responsibility for the vehicle that is in effect at the time the demand is made.”

A driver that violates this section is charged with an infraction. This is opposed to a California misdemeanor or a felony. Offenders will receive a ticket and must pay a fine in the amount of $100 to $200.

The minimum insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles are:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person,
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and
  • $5,000 for damage to property.

Some motorists cannot afford insurance. If so, they may be eligible for the Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program.

Note that it is considered auto insurance fraud if:

  • a person carries insurance from another state, and
  • does so because the rates in the other state are lower.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will discuss the following in this article:

police issuing a ticket - driving without proof of insurance is an infraction under 16028(a) VC
16028 VC is the statute that makes it a crime if a person does not carry proof of insurance in his/her vehicle.

1. What does insurance requirements does 16028(a) VC impose?

The following takes place if a driver cannot show proof of insurance when driving a vehicle:

  1. he/she is charged with an infraction,
  2. the driver must pay a fine between $100 and $200 for a first offense, and
  3. the person must pay a fine between $200 and $500 for any subsequent offense.1

Vehicle Code 16028 is clear. Drivers must carry proof of liability insurance with them at all times when driving. They must produce this proof if:

  • a police officer asks for it,
  • the driver gets into an accident,
  • the person registers his/her car or renews his/her registration, or
  • the driver's car gets inspected.2

Note that a police officer cannot:

  • stop a person for the sole purpose of,
  • determining if he/she has proof of insurance.

Rather, officers can ask for this proof:

  • once they have other justifications,
  • for stopping a vehicle.3

A person can prove he/she has insurance by providing:

  1. the insurance card that is given to him/her by the insurance carrier,
  2. a letter that is authorized by the California DMV if a driver made a cash deposit or is self-insured,
  3. a California Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR-22) form,
  4. evidence that the vehicle is owned or leased by a public entity,
  5. a Notification of Alternative Forms of Responsibility (REG 5085) form, or
  6. a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form.4

2. What type of car insurance does the State require drivers to carry?

The minimum insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles in California are:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person,
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and
  • $5,000 for damage to property.5

Note that liability insurance compensates a person for personal injury or property damage.

Note also that comprehensive or collision insurance and med pay do not satisfy VC 16028 requirements. Nor does California require drivers to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/IM) coverage.

3. What if a person cannot afford insurance?

Some people cannot afford automobile insurance. If so, they may be eligible for the Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program.

Information about this program is available at:

driver worried because he doesn't have insurance
If you cannot afford auto insurance, you may be eligible for the Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program

4. What if someone stops driving a vehicle?

Drivers can cancel their insurance if they stop driving for whatever reason.

If they do, they have to submit an Affidavit of Non-Use (ANU) (REG 5090) form to the DMV.

A person can get this form either:

  • online at dmv.ca.gov,
  • by calling the automated voice system at 1-800-777-0133, or
  • by mail to one of the DMV addresses.

5. Can someone reside in California and carry insurance from another state?

A person may live in California and carry insurance from another state if:

  • he/she spends several months of the year in the other state, or
  • the person is attending college in the other state.

Note though that it is considered auto insurance fraud if:

  • a person carries insurance from another state, and
  • does so because the rates in the other state are lower.

If a person commits this fraud, then the following can occur:

  • the person's license could be suspended or revoked,
  • the driver's insurance will get canceled, and
  • the person may face time in the county jail.

6. What is bodily injury liability insurance?

California law requires:

Such insurance pays the other party's:

These payments are made up to the at-fault driver's policy limits.

Bodily injury liability insurance in California must be a minimum of so-called “15/30” insurance.6

This means that for any single accident the insurance will cover up to:

  • $15,000 for the death or bodily injury of one person, or
  • $30,000 total for the wrongful death or bodily liability of all people hurt or killed in the accident.

Policies with limits greater than 15/30 are sold by most California insurers.

For additional help...

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Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.


Legal References:

  1. California Vehicle Code 16029 VC.

  2. California Vehicle Code 16028(a) VC.

  3. See same. See also People v. Verdugo (2007), 150 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1.

  4. California DMV Website - Financial Responsibility (Insurance) Requirements for Vehicle Registration (FFVR 18).

  5. California Insurance Code 11580.1b. See also California DMV Website - Financial Responsibility (Insurance) Requirements for Vehicle Registration (FFVR 18).

  6. Same.

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