In New Jersey, the penalties for the traffic offense of driving without insurance are even more severe than for a first offense of driving under the influence (DUI). If a vehicle is being operated on New Jersey roads without ample insurance, there are significant penalties that the driver will face. They can add up to large fines, the suspension of the individual’s driver’s license and even mandatory jail time.
Insurance Requirements in New Jersey
New Jersey law requires that all cars registered in New Jersey be insured for the following types of insurance:
- Liability insurance – Liability insurance covers damages, other than medical expenses, that you cause in the event of an accident that is your fault
- Personal injury protection (PIP) – Personal injury protection covers medical expenses if you are injured in a car accident, regardless of whether or not you were legally at fault
- Uninsured motorist coverage – Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are involved in a car accident with someone who does not have proper insurance coverage
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in New Jersey
For the first offense of driving without insurance, an individual will be subject to a driver’s license suspension for one year and fines in an amount between $300 and $1,000. There will also be surcharges of $250 that will be paid annually for three years.
If a person is caught driving without insurance a second time, the license will be suspended for two years with fines of as much as $5,000. There is jail time for a second offense of driving without insurance and the person will be incarcerated for 14 days and also have to perform 30 days of community service.
Defenses for Driving Without Insurance
For a charge of driving without insurance, the prosecutor must prove that the driver is the owner of the vehicle, he or she knew or should have known that the vehicle was uninsured and the vehicle must also be principally garaged and registered in New Jersey. Therefore, if a defendant can establish that he or she did not know and had no reason to know that the vehicle was not insured, they may have a viable defense to their charge.
Additionally, it’s possible that the individual’s insurance company canceled or did not renew the policy and did not inform the car’s owner in a timely fashion as required. It is required that the insurer inform the owner of the motor vehicle that the insurance has been canceled. If you were not aware or informed of the cancellation, this could be a defense for driving without insurance.
Another reason for driving without insurance is if the car belonged to another person who had just recently moved to New Jersey or was simply a visitor. If this is the case, it is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove that the driver of the vehicle was knowingly driving a motor vehicle that was not insured. The owner of the car will also be issued a summons for no insurance, so the testimony and relationship of the individuals will be key.
The laws define “operation” differently for cases of driving without insurance than “operation” in a DWI case. In a no insurance case, for example, just because a person is sitting behind the wheel of a parked car, doesn’t mean that he or she was operating it. The burden of proof for the person operating the motor vehicle falls on the prosecutor.
Contact a Municipal Court Attorney to Discuss Your Charge
The penalties for driving without insurance are severe and can negatively impact a person’s life. The suspension of a person’s driver’s license can result in many hardships, as can the fines and surcharges that accompany a first offense of driving without insurance. For a second offense, the prospect of mandatory jail time and community service, plus the suspension of the license for two years only makes it more imperative that you have an experienced attorney on your side.
If you have been charged with driving a motor vehicle without insurance in Brick, Long Branch, Wall or any other part of Ocean County or Monmouth County, New Jersey, contact the law firm of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey for assistance. Call a Villani & DeLuca attorney today for your free consultation.