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What will happen to me if I hit a car with no license or insurance?

Asked by user in California.

I haven’t been able to get to the DMV to renew my drivers license. I sideswiped a car. I have no car and no insurance, so I borrowed a friend’s car. What’s going to happen to me?

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

In California, car insurance typically follows the car. In other words, your friend’s insurance would typically cover the damage done to the other vehicle even though you were driving the car at the time.

However, because your friend lent the vehicle to an unlicensed driver (you), the insurance company may be able to deny coverage. In that event, you would be personally liable for the damages that you caused. This means that the other driver (or their insurance company) would be able to file a lawsuit against you to collect the damages that you caused.

I recommend reviewing your friend’s insurance policy and reaching out to their insurance company to see if the accident is covered. If the accident is not covered, I would wait to see if the other driver is going to file a lawsuit against you, at which point you can defend the lawsuit or negotiate a settlement.

Finally, it’s against the law to drive without a license in California (California Vehicle Code 12500). Similarly, it’s against the law to drive without insurance (California Vehicle Code 16028). If you weren’t given a citation at the time of the accident, you could still technically receive a citation. The penalties range from $100 to 6 months in jail depending on the seriousness of the accident and whether or not it’s your first offense.

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