Driving without insurance in New Jersey can result in some of the most severe penalties out of all states, depending on the circumstance. If you're found driving a car without proper insurance in place, you could face steep fines, the loss of your license for an entire year, additional surcharges and a mandatory jail term, including community service.
To legally drive in the Garden State, drivers must purchase either Standard or Basic auto insurance policy. If you are having a hard time finding insurance coverage, ask your agent about the New Jersey Personal Automobile Insurance Plan.
Penalties for driving without insurance
New Jersey state law considers driving uninsured a serious offense, punishable by up to 14 days in jail, and the loss of your driver's license for one or two years, or permanently if you're found to be a habitual offender. It's one of the most punitive we've seen compared to other states' penalties.
The Municipal Court can require a driver to produce an insurance card or policy covering the date of the offense at the time of a court date. Failure to produce such proof creates a situation that's called a rebuttable presumption — they basically consider you to be uninsured when charged with the offense.
This table illustrates the penalties under 1st and subsequent offenses, followed by an explanation in more detail (these penalties are in addition to any fines or penalties imposed by a court of law):
First and Subsequent Offenses
Second and Subsequent Offenses
|Fines||$300-$1,000 $250 surcharge assessment for three years ($750)||$500-$5,000 $250 surcharge assessment for three years ($750)|
|Driving Privilege||Driver's license suspended for a full year||Driver's license suspended for two full years, reinstatement is up to the DMV director|
|Community Service||Length determined by court||Up to 180 hours|
|Other||Possible vehicle impoundment in case proof of insurance was not presented within 24 hours of citation. It takes an additional $100 fee to retrieve the impounded car.||Up to 14 days in jail; possible vehicle impoundment in case proof of insurance was not presented within 24 hours of citation. It takes an additional $100 fee to retrieve the impounded car.|
Penalties for 1st offense
If you fail to present valid proof of active insurance when requested by law enforcement, such as at traffic stops or at the scene of an accident, you will be charged with mandatory penalties in the state of New Jersey. For the 1st offense, the fine ranges from a minimum of $300 to a maximum of $1,000. You'll lose your driver's license for an entire year and are required to perform community service.
The court will determine the length and type of community service you'll need to perform. A yearly surcharge of $250 is assessed for three years, and additional court charges may apply.
In addition, if you fail to provide proof of insurance within 24 hours of the citation, your car could be impounded by a warren. To reclaim your vehicle you'll need to pay a $100 administrative fee on top of showing proof of active insurance that is in compliance with the NJ financial responsibility laws.
Penalties for 2nd and subsequent offenses
Upon your 2nd offense, mandatory penalties include 14 days in jail, a fine between $500-$5,000, the suspension of your license for at least two years and a $250 surcharge that the driver must pay for three years. The court may also assign up to 180 hours of community service, with the type of community service determined by the judge. A second offense may also add several New Jersey insurance points to your record, making it that much more expensive to get affordable rates on future auto insurance coverage.
To get a driver's license reinstated, a driver must submit an application to the DMV and the director will determine how likely it is the driver will get caught driving uninsured for a third time. According to state law, the DMV director has the right to refuse reinstatement of the driver's license permanently.