Penalties for Driving without Insurance in New Jersey

Driving without insurance in New Jersey can result in some of the most severe penalties in the country, depending on the circumstance. If you're found driving a car without proper insurance, you could face steep fines, the loss of your license for a year, additional surcharges, a mandatory jail term and community service.

Penalties for driving without insurance

To legally drive in the Garden State, drivers must purchase either a standard or basic auto insurance policy that meets the minimum requirements.

New Jersey law considers driving uninsured a serious offense, punishable by steep penalties like up to 14 days in jail and the permanent loss of your driver's license if you're found to be a habitual offender. Compared to other states, New Jersey’s punishment is severe.

New Jersey police officers will ask for proof of auto insurance during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. If you can't produce it, you will be issued a citation and receive a court date. If you also can't show the court proof of insurance, it creates a situation called rebuttable presumption — they consider you uninsured when charged with the offense.

The penalties listed here are in addition to any fines or penalties imposed by a court of law.

Penalty type

First offense
Second and subsequent offenses
Fines$300–$1,000 $250 surcharge assessment for three years ($750)Up to $5,000 $250 surcharge assessment for three years ($750)
Driving privilegeDriver's license suspended for a full yearDriver's license suspended for two full years, reinstatement is up to the DMV chief administrator
Community serviceLength determined by court30 days
OtherPossible vehicle impoundment. You would pay any towing and storage fees in addition to a $100 administrative fee to retrieve the impounded car.Up to 14 days in jail. Possible vehicle impoundment. You would pay any towing and storage fees in addition to a $100 administrative fee to retrieve the impounded car.

Penalties for first offense

If you fail to present valid proof of active insurance when requested by law enforcement, such as at traffic stops or the scene of an accident, you will be charged with mandatory penalties in the state of New Jersey.

For the first offense, the fine ranges from a minimum of 300 to a maximum of $1,000. You'll lose your driver's license for a 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, your car could be impounded by the police officer immediately or if you fail to provide proof of insurance within 24 hours of the citation. To reclaim your vehicle, you'll need to pay a $100 administrative fee and the cost of any towing or storage, on top of showing proof of active insurance that complies with NJ financial responsibility laws.

Penalties for second and subsequent offenses

Upon your second offense, mandatory penalties include 14 days in jail, a fine up to $5,000, the suspension of your license for at least two years and a $250 surcharge that must be paid annually for three years. The court may also assign up to 30 days of community service that’s 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 chief administrator will determine how likely it is the driver will get caught driving uninsured for a third time. According to state law, the DMV has the right to refuse reinstatement of the driver's license permanently.

If you are having a hard time finding insurance coverage once your license is reinstated, ask your agent about the New Jersey Personal Automobile Insurance Plan.

Get car insurance in New Jersey after a lapse in coverage

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.