GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — People driving without insurance may be more common than we realized. 

Gate City Towing Owner Tommy Washam told FOX8 he’s towed a growing number of uninsured vehicles over the past decade.

Washam and his team tow vehicles from police requests to crashes. 

“If you see a paper tag that’s out of date, there is a giant chance that it’s actually they don’t have insurance on the car,” Washam said. 

Washam told FOX8 drivers who don’t have insurance could impact insured drivers if the unthinkable happens. 

“It’s really sad actually for the person who has insurance and or gets in a wreck, and it’s not their fault,” Washam said. “You’re going to have to pay for your own car even if they hit you. Even if it’s their fault, you still have to pay for your car.” 

Uninsured drivers might have to pay out of pocket too.  

“They have to either deal with us as far as settling up with our wrecker bill or they just give us the car for scrap,” Washam said. 

Tape is still visible from where an expired temporary tag was on a Honda Civic he towed in February. Greensboro police removed the tag. 

“It is state law to maintain insurance on your vehicle, and that’s something people need to stay on top of,” said Marty Homan, a North Carolina Department of Transportation communications specialist. 

Homan told FOX8 there are civil penalties if insurance lapses.

The first time within three years is a $50 fine, the second time is a $100 fine and the third time is a $150 fine.

Homan said it’s most common when people are moving out of the state.  

“The plates aren’t their property to keep,” Homan said. “Those need to be turned back into the state, and you need to take that step of turning in your license plate before you cancel your insurance.” 

Civil penalties are separate from a law enforcement citation if you get pulled over for driving without insurance. 

It’s recommended to get uninsured motorist or full collision insurance coverage on your vehicle before you hit the road.