Driving an uninsured vehicle: what are the consequences?

In the State of New Jersey under N.J.S.A 39:6B-1 any vehicle that is bought or operated on a public road in the State of New Jersey must carry liability insurance. This coverage is to be for no less than $15,000 for the death or injuries of a single victim, $30,000 to cover any one accident, and $5,000 to cover any form of property damage. If you are currently driving a car without liability insurance, or with a lower amount of coverage than the listed above than you are violating N.J.S.A 39:6B-1, and are facing very severe consequences, as a result. The ramifications for driving without liability insurance can potentially be more devastating in some municipal courts than a first time DWI charge, and without proper representation, there is a long list of penalties one can be convicted of.

For a first-time offender, a minimum fine of $300 to a maximum fine of $1,000 is to be imposed. In addition to this fine, there are surcharges up to $250 to be paid to the MVC for up to three years depending on the judge. Furthermore, a license suspension for up to one year is required, and you will also be given 9 insurance eligibility points.

For a second-time offender, as well as subsequent offenders, a minimum fine of $500 to a maximum fine of $5000 is to be imposed. In addition, there is a mandatory fourteen-day imprisonment, thirty days community service, 2-year license suspension, $250 to be paid to the MVC for three years, and finally 9 insurance eligibility points.

While the penalties for this offense can be severe, there are several different types of defenses that are applicable when it comes to reducing or eliminating this charge. Probably the most pertinent piece of information to an uninsured motorist defense would be the amount of time that a driver has gone without insurance. If the insurance policy had been terminated within one or two months prior to the date in question then it is more likely that the offense would be reduced to less serious crime such as driving while suspended. While there are still consequences, they are severely reduced in comparison to the original uninsured motorist offense.

In addition to when the policy was canceled, the second piece of crucial information that can be utilized would be how and when you were notified about the termination of you insurance policy. In the case, State v. Hochman defendant, Paul Hochman, was charged with N.J.S.A 39: 6B-1 after being stopped for an expired inspection sticker while driving in Montclair, New Jersey. While he was initially convicted of the offense, the decision was eventually overturned due to the fact that he was not properly informed of the cancellation of his policy. In accordance with N.J.S.A. 17:29C-10, for an insurance policy to terminate a policy there must be a properly delivered notice of cancelation. Even though his insurance company had mailed him a notice of termination, they had mailed it to the wrong address resulting in the conviction to be reversed.

While there are defenses that can be of use to you when facing offenses such as these, it is never smart to try and handle this serious of a matter without professional legal counsel. If you are currently facing an offense similar to this contact us so we can discuss your particular facts.

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