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Driving without insurance can lead to some serious penalties in New York, and the most common consequence is the suspension or revocation of your license or registration. If your license or registration is suspended, you will be notified by the Department of Motor Vehicles with a “Definite Suspension Order” that will tell you how long your suspension will last.
In order to restore your license or registration as soon as possible, you should get auto insurance in New York, even if you are not allowed to drive, to prove that you are financially responsible for your vehicle once your privileges are reinstated. Your driving record may have taken a hit as a result of your conviction for driving uninsured, which may mean you may be unable to buy a policy in the voluntary market. If you’re unable to get covered by an insurer, you can try to find insurance through the New York Automobile Insurance Plan.
License or Registration Suspended for Driving Without Insurance
You may have received an “inquiry letter” from the DMV, prior to receiving a “Definite Order of Suspension”, asking you to verify your insurance status online before you are suspended for lack of insurance. NYS Law requires that all drivers carry auto liability insurance. When you receive an “inquiry letter”, you must prove to the DMV that you either have liability insurance and that you have contacted your insurance company to electronically notify the DMV of your coverage, or that you have sold your car and you no longer require insurance. If you are unable to prove that you're insured, you’ll have to surrender your plates to the DMV, which will lead to a “Definite Suspension Order” of your license or registration.
If you received a “Definite Suspension Order” from the New York DMV, your license or registration may be suspended because you allowed your auto insurance to lapse or were convicted of driving without insurance. If you failed to renew your automobile liability insurance policy, or your insurer cancelled your policy, your insurer must electronically notify the NY DMV to inform them of your lapse. At that time, your license or registration may be suspended due to failure to maintain financial responsibility for your vehicle.
Once your insurance lapses, you typically get a grace period of 90 days from the DMV to pay a civil penalty in order to maintain your license or registration. If you are unable to pay the fine for lapse of insurance, you can turn in your plates and registration within those 90 days. After your insurance has lapsed for over 90 days, your license or registration may be suspended for the amount of days that you allowed your insurance to lapse. For example, if your insurance was lapsed for 400 days, your registration or license will be suspended for 400 days. For more information about insurance lapses, check here.
The “Definite Suspension Order” that was mailed to your address will include information about when the suspension period will end and the necessary actions you must take. It’s illegal to drive your car while your driver license or registration is suspended.
Reinstating Your License or Registration
Once you’ve received a “Definite Order of Suspension”, you should check to see if your license is still valid using the DMV’s My License, Permit, or ID service. If you received an order of suspension but are unsure about your insurance status, you should check your insurance status online using the following instructions. To successfully check your insurance status, you must have the following on hand:
- The 10-digit document number listed on the bottom of the suspension order (check here if you are unsure about where to locate the 10-digit document number)
- Your vehicle plate number
After checking your insurance status online, and verifying that your insurance has indeed lapsed, you must submit proof of insurance to the DMV, and pay a suspension termination fee, in order to drive again after your suspension period has ended. There are two ways to submit proof of insurance to the NY DMV.
1. Online: You can submit proof of insurance online by providing the following information:
- The 10-digit document number listed on the bottom of the suspension order
- Your vehicle plate number
- Your NYS Insurance Identification card
2. By mail: You can also submit proof of insurance by mailing the bottom part of your insurance letter and a photo copy of your NYS Insurance Identification Card to the following address:
NYS DMV Financial Security Bureau PO Box 2725 Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12220-0725
In addition to submitting proof of insurance, you’ll have to pay a suspension termination fee of $50. You can pay the suspension termination fee online here by entering your name or DMV ID number, your date of birth and gender, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number. You can also pay the suspension termination fee in person at a DMV office, or by mail if your suspension order provides instructions to do so.
Paying the suspension termination fee does not guarantee that the DMV will restore your license or registration. If there are other problems with your record, you should check your MyDMV account to see how you can resolve outstanding issues.
If the DMV is satisfied with your payment, they will mail your license or registration to you within 3 business days of the end of your suspension period. You will have to wait for the suspension period to end before legally operating a motor vehicle.
If your license or registration was suspended or revoked due to an uninsured accident, or if you have a complex driving record, contact the Insurance Services Bureau at (518) 474-0700 for more information.