New Jersey takes driving without insurance extremely seriously. Not only does driving without insurance have potentially harsh criminal penalties including high fines, jail time, and license suspensions, but you could also have your car impounded or lose it entirely.
Fortunately, there are sometimes ways to get charges dropped, keep your car, and get on with your life without too much hassle or expense. The Atlantic City driving without insurance lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain how our lawyers can help you with uninsured driving charges and fight to get your case dropped. For a free consultation on your charges, contact our law offices today at (609) 625-3006.
Driving Without Insurance in New Jersey
If you are pulled over or involved in an accident in New Jersey, police will ask you for proof of insurance along with the standard “license and registration.” It is up to the New Jersey Commissioner of Banking and Insurance to decide what specific information needs to be on an “insurance identification card.” These rules are intended to ensure that your proof of insurance has enough information to make any insurance claims, to ensure the insurance ID card has security features that make it harder to counterfeit, and to ensure that digital formats are acceptable.
In NJ, proof of insurance can come in many forms. Physical, paper copies are obviously accepted. New Jersey law also accounts for the use of electronic copies. Under the insurance rules, an image on your phone or another device should be equally acceptable. You should not have to be afraid of giving your phone or tablet over to a police officer to show them your insurance card since the statute specifically states that using an electronic device to display your insurance info does not give police or a judge any right to search your device or access other contents.
N.J.S.A. § 39:3-29’s primary concern is that you have insurance. If you do not have your insurance identification card when you are pulled over or asked to produce it, you can face a ticket for this offense. If you have insurance, but simply do not have the card with you, you can still face a ticket. However, § 39:3-29 specifically accounts for this situation by giving you the opportunity to appear in court with proof that you had valid insurance on the day in question to get your charges dropped.
In addition to these rules requiring you to produce your insurance card, there are strict minimum insurance requirements. If you own a car that you primarily keep in New Jersey, you must carry insurance that meets the minimum state requirements of:
- $15,000 coverage for personal injury, per person,
- $30,000 coverage for personal injury, per accident, and
- $5,000 coverage for property damage, per accident.
Failing to follow these requirements, listed in N.J.S.A. § 39:6B-1 can carry serious penalties.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in NJ
Simply forgetting your insurance card is not too severe. In most cases, you face a potential fine of $150. This is relatively low compared to many traffic offenses. If you were driving a bus at the time of the ticket, the fine is increased to $250. On top of this fine, you may face additional court costs and administration fees, which are unavoidable. Even if you produce your valid insurance card and get the charges dropped, you may still need to pay these court fees.
Failing to carry the minimum required auto insurance entirely has much more severe consequences. Driving a car in New Jersey without insurance under N.J.S.A. § 39:6B-1, et. seq., can lead to:
- A fine of $300-$1,000,
- Community service, and
- A 1-year license suspension.
If you are convicted of this offense a second time, you face increased penalties of:
- Fines up to $5,000,
- Up to 14 days in jail,
- Up to 30 days of community service, and
- A 2-year license suspension.
If your license is suspended, you must pay fees to get the license reinstated in addition to annual surcharges of $250 for 3 years (for a total of $750).
If you are ticketed for driving without insurance, N.J.S.A. § 39:3-29.1a requires you to show proof of insurance within 24 hours of your offense, or else your vehicle can be impounded and eventually sold at auction. Even if you did not have insurance, getting insurance quickly after being ticketed can help avoid having your car impounded and could potentially get the more severe driving without insurance charges dropped. If you still cannot produce insurance within 24 hours of your ticket, your car can be impounded and held for 30 days. After 30 days, the car can be sold at auction if you still do not have insurance. To get your car back, you must produce proof of insurance, pay a $100 fee, and pay the costs of towing and storage.
Our Atlantic City, NJ Defense Attorneys for Uninsured Driving Offer Free Consultations
Because you could face serious fines, jail time, community service, license suspensions, and even potentially lose your vehicle, it is vital to talk to an attorney about charges for driving without insurance. The Atlantic City uninsured driving lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych may be able to help with your case. To schedule a free consultation, call (609) 625-3006 today.