Driving Without Insurance in New Jersey
Provided by HG.org
Motor vehicle accidents are so common that states require all drivers to maintain minimum liability coverage. New Jersey is no exception. As a condition of driving, motorists are required to carry liability insurance so that individuals do not have to be responsible for injuries that were caused by another person’s negligence.
Minimum Liability Insurance
New Jersey laws require that motorists carry certain liability insurance. These requirements are different for injury, death and property damage. These requirements are specified in New Jersey’s Statute 39:6B-2.
Owners of a motor vehicle are legally required to carry injury coverage of at least $15,000 for a person. Additionally, they must carry minimum coverage of at least $30,000 for the injury or death of more than one person.
The same minimum requirements must be carried for the death as for the injury of an individual and for more than one person.
In addition to coverage for injuries or death, New Jersey owners of operational motor vehicles are required to maintain coverage for property damage. The minimum state amount is $5,000.
Range of Penalties
New Jersey’s Statute 39:6B-2 specifies penalties for individuals who do not carry this mandatory coverage. These penalties exceed those for a first time DUI. Mandatory penalties include:
For a first offense, the driver of the vehicle or vehicle owner must pay a fine of at least $300 and no more than $1,000. For subsequent convictions, the defendant can face a fine of up to $5,000.
In addition to fines, the defendant will be required to perform community service. The municipal court that sentences him or her provides the period of time for which community service must be completed. The court may also designate the form of community service and designate other appropriate terms. If the conviction is a subsequent one, the defendant will be ordered to perform 30 days of community service.
Driver’s License Suspension
Additionally, the defendant will have his or her license suspended for at least one year from the date of conviction. For a subsequent conviction, the defendant will have his or her license suspended for a minimum of two years.
If it is not a first offense, the defendant can face a mandatory jail term of 14 days for driving without the state-mandated minimum insurance.
The defendant will also be responsible for court costs and an annual surcharge. He or she will pay $250 to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This surcharge lasts for three years and is then dropped if there are no subsequent convictions during this time. The $750 that is collected goes to the Uninsured Motorist Prevention Fund along with any interest that accumulates. This goes toward administrative expenses and other enforcement of the uninsured motorist provisions.
For second or repeat offenders, nine insurance eligibility points are assessed. This usually results in it being very difficult for the defendant to acquire automotive insurance. If he or she is able to acquire insurance, it is usually at an expensive premium.
In order to have his or her driver’s license reinstated, the defendant must apply to acquire a new license with the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles. The director has the discretion to grant the request by considering all relevant factors, including whether the defendant will likely operate a motor vehicle without insurance again. The director can decide to permanently refuse reinstatement if he or she so chooses.
Failure to Show Proof of Insurance
If the defendant fails to produce proof of an insurance policy that was in force during the time of the offense at his or her trial, a rebuttable presumption arises that the defendant was uninsured when the violation occurred.
Defenses to Driving Without Insurance
In some cases, a defendant may be driving a vehicle without actually knowing that it is not insured, such as when he or she is driving a friend or coworker’s vehicle. In order for a prosecution to be successful in these situations, the prosecution has the burden of showing that the driver knew or should have known that the vehicle was not insured. A criminal defense lawyer can assess the case and determine if there are any other defenses that may apply.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.