Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in New York

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in New York

In New York state, driving without auto insurance is considered a criminal offense.

Most New York drivers comply with the financial responsibility law. According to the Insurance Information Institute, only 4.1% of drivers are uninsured in the Empire State. If you need to buy car insurance in New York and haven't found a willing insurer, check out the New York Automobile Insurance Plan.

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If you're pulled over for a traffic violation in New York, the officer may ask for your paper or electronic insurance identification card. The penalties for driving without auto insurance in New York are steep.

The state may fine you up to $1,500, suspend your driving privileges, charge an additional fee of $750 to restore a revoked license, impound your vehicle or even require you to serve jail time.

Penalties for driving without auto insurance

Once you have a New York auto insurance policy, your insurer electronically notifies the New York Department of Motor Vehicles that you're covered. They also send you an insurance identification card to carry while driving.

As long as your car is registered in New York state, you must have proof of liability coverage as well as a driver's license and a vehicle registration. If you fail to provide these documents during a traffic stop, the officer will assume you don't have coverage — even if you have a policy and simply forgot to bring your card. That's why it's so important to carry your information.

NY car insurance requirements

Drivers in New York must carry at least this much insurance:

  • $25,000 for bodily liability insurance per person
  • $50,000 for bodily liability insurance per accident
  • $10,000 for property damage coverage per accident

You could face a penalty of $150–$1,500 each time you're found driving without insurance or if you let someone else drive your uninsured vehicle. A New York court may also impound your car, imprison you for up to 15 days, or revoke your driver's license and registration. If the department of motor vehicles has suspended your driving privileges, you may receive a notice in the mail resembling this form. To reinstate your license, you may also have to pay the DMV a $750 fee.

You have fewer options if your insurance has lapsed for more than 90 days or if you have already paid a civil penalty within the last three years. In those cases, you'll need to serve the suspension period before reinstating your New York license instead of paying the $750 fee.

Getting auto insurance after a lapse in coverage

You will also need to buy an insurance policy before you can legally drive again. Not all insurers will cover a driver with a lapse in coverage, particularly if you've had multiple offenses, so you should consider companies that work with higher-risk drivers.

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Penalties for lapses in insurance

Your insurer will notify the DMV if your auto insurance policy lapses for any reason. Then, the agency will suspend your license and registration and charge you a daily fine until you reinstate your coverage. The penalties for a lapse in coverage are:

  • 1–30 days: $8 per day, up to $240
  • 31–60 days: $10 per day, up to $300
  • 61–90 days: $12 per day, up to $360
  • Total cost if there is a lapse in your coverage for 90 days: $900

If you can't pay these penalties, you may instead surrender your vehicle registration and plates until the suspension period is over. If after 90 days you fail to pay the fee and do not surrender your registration and plates, the DMV will also suspend your registration and driver's license. To reinstate your license, you will have to pay a $750 fee to the DMV.

The total cost of a lapse in insurance and a conviction for driving without insurance in New York could be up to $2,400.

Penalties for driving uninsured in an accident

If you're involved in a car crash while uninsured, the New York DMV will take your vehicle registration and driver's license for at least one year after the crash. Even if someone else was driving your uninsured vehicle at the time of the collision, your license and registration can still be revoked.

In addition to paying fines up to $1,500 and a $750 civil penalty to restore your license, you're also financially responsible for any damage or injuries that resulted from the accident.

If you unknowingly drove an uninsured vehicle and were involved in a collision, the insurance commissioner may excuse you from paying these costs.

Summary of penalties and fines for driving uninsured in New York

Fines
Impoundment
Driving privilege
Imprisonment

Traffic stop penalties

$150–$1,500 and an additional civil penalty fee of $750 if your license is revokedPossibleYour license and registration could be revoked for up to three years.Up to 15 days

Collision penalties

$150–$1,500 and an additional civil penalty fee of $750 if your license is revokedPossibleYour license and registration will immediately be revoked for at least one year and up to three years.Up to 15 days

Insurance lapse penalties

Civil penalty fee up to $900N/AYour registration could be suspended if you fail to pay the civil penalty.N/A

Appealing your fine

If you're charged for driving without insurance but actually have a valid policy, then you should hire an attorney. This person can help you appeal the fine in court and prove you have adequate liability coverage in the state of New York. Additionally, your attorney can help you avoid imprisonment and a license suspension.

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SR-22 Insurance

An SR-22 form is a certificate that proves you have the minimum required auto insurance. You only need an SR-22 if your state or court orders you to get one after a major driving violation.

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