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In New York State, driving without auto insurance is considered a criminal offense. The New York Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law mandates that drivers purchase a car insurance policy with at least 25/50/10 of coverage. Most New York drivers comply with the Financial Responsibility Law, with only 5.3% of NY motorists being uninsured. It is essential that you carry auto insurance while driving in New York, so if you haven't found a willing insurer, you may be able to find insurance through the New York Automobile Insurance Plan.
If you are pulled over by a police officer for a traffic stop in New York, you could be asked to present your insurance identification card or electronic proof of insurance. The penalties for driving without auto insurance in New York could include fines up to $1,500, an additional fee of $750 to restore your license if it is revoked, the impoundment of your vehicle, jail time, and the suspension of your driving privileges.
Penalties for Driving Uninsured in New York
Once you have your New York auto insurance policy, your insurer is required to file your coverage electronically with the NY Department of Motor Vehicles and you will be issued an insurance identification card to carry with you while driving.
For as long as your car is registered in New York State, you must maintain your liability coverage. If you are pulled over by a police officer, you may be asked to present proof of insurance in the form of an ID card, in addition to your driver license and registration. If you fail to produce an insurance ID card or proof of insurance in an electronic format, even if you do possess auto insurance, it will be presumed that you have been operating a car without proper insurance. In the case that you actually have auto insurance but just forgot your ID card, you could face the same repercussions as an uninsured driver, which is why it’s so important that you carry your ID card.
Each time you are found driving without insurance or allowing another person to drive your uninsured vehicle, you could face fines between $150-1,500 in the Empire State. In addition to fines, a NY police officer could order the impoundment of your vehicle and imprison you up to 15 days. Even more seriously, the DMV could revoke your driver license and registration. If the DMV has ordered the suspension of your driving privileges, you may receive a notice in the mail resembling this form. In order to reinstate your license, you could be required to pay $750 to the DMV.
If your insurance has lapsed for more than 91 days, or if you have already paid a civil penalty within the last three years, you no longer have the option of paying the $750 civil penalty and will have to out wait the suspension period to reinstate your New York license.
Getting Auto Insurance After a Lapse in Coverage
You will also need to obtain coverage with an insurer in the state before you can drive legally again. Not all insurers will cover a driver that has had a lapse in coverage, particularly if you have had multiple offenses, so you should consider companies that work with higher-risk drivers, such as those listed below.
Penalties for Allowing Your Insurance to Lapse
If you allow your auto insurance policy to lapse - either not renewing it in time, or canceling your policy without a backup policy in place - your insurer will electronically notify the New York DMV, and your vehicle registration could be immediately suspended. Once the DMV has been notified, they'll charge you a certain amount of money per day that you have not reinstated your insurance coverage. During this time, your registration will be suspended. The following are the penalties for a lapse in your coverage:
- For 1-30 days: $8 per day - $240
- For 31-60 days: $10 per day - $300
- For 61-90 days: $12 per day - $360
- Total cost if there is a lapse in your coverage for 90 days: $900
If you are unable to pay these penalties, you can 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 license. To reinstate your license, you will have to pay a fee to the DMV.
The total cost of a lapse in insurance and a conviction for driving without insurance in New York could cost up to $2,400.
Penalties for Being Uninsured in an Accident
If the New York Department of Motor Vehicles gets notified that you, or someone else driving your uninsured vehicle, have been involved in a collision while without auto insurance, you'll lose your registration and 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 civil penalty of $750 to restore your license, you will also be held accountable for any damages or injuries that resulted from the accident. If you unknowingly drove an uninsured vehicle and were involved in a collision, the Insurance Commissioner could excuse you from paying the cost of damages and injuries that resulted from the accident.
The Different Penalties & Fines in New York for Driving Uninsured
Traffic Stop Penalties
|$150-1500 and an additional civil penalty fee of $750 if your license is revoked||Possible||Your license and registration could be revoked for up to three years.||Up to 15 days|
|$150-1500 and an additional civil penalty fee of $750 if your license is revoked||Possible||Your 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 $900||N/A||Your registration could be suspended if you fail to pay the civil penalty.||N/A|
Appealing Your Fine
If you are charged for driving without insurance, but you are actually insured and just forgot your ID or policy at the time of a traffic stop or a collision, you should hire an attorney. Your attorney can assist you in appealing your fine in court and proving that you do possess adequate liability coverage in the state of New York. Additionally, your attorney can help you avoid imprisonment and the suspension of your driving privileges.