Driving Without Insurance Coverage

All automobiles traveling on New York’s roads and highways must be registered and insured in order to provide financial security to compensate another should a driver inflict damage upon a person or property. Proof of this insurance is satisfied by the driver producing an Insurance Identification Card. If a driver fails to produce proof of insurance when requested by police, it is presumptive evidence of driving a vehicle without insurance. Producing a valid Insurance Identification Card that is not expired rebuts the presumption.

There are severe penalties imposed if a driver fails to obtain and maintain insurance on a vehicle. Failing to have proper insurance can result in a mandatory revocation of a vehicle’s registration, which can carry fines and/or imprisonment. In addition, after a hearing, a civil penalty can be imposed if the violator was the owner and operator at the time of the offense. However, if certain defenses are asserted, the penalty may be avoided or stayed. A conviction of operating a vehicle without insurance will result in a mandatory revocation of the vehicle registration and the driver’s license for a period of time if there was no accident or for one year if there was an accident. The revocation will stay in effect until the civil penalty is paid. An accused violator can request by certain methods to be heard at a hearing in order to prove that he/she was not aware of a termination of insurance coverage and that another person’s negligence caused the termination of insurance. It is the burden of the accused violator to prove that the lapse or termination of insurance was the result of another person’s negligence because it is presumed that all notices were properly sent and received. This typically applies to the situation where the driver pays an insurance agent for coverage and the agent fails to forward the payment to the insurance company. If the vehicle was not properly insured and there was an accident involving death or injury, the penalties are more severe.

When insurance coverage lapses, the insurance company is required by law to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as well as the owner. The notice to the owner must state that if the insurance lapse is 90 days or less, you can avoid having your registration suspended if you pay a civil penalty of $8 per day up to 90 days for which you did not have insurance. There are numerous different proofs that the DMV will accept as proof that the vehicle was properly insured. After receiving notice of the insurance lapse on the vehicle, a revocation notice can be sent to the owner’s last known address on file by the DMV. There is also certain proof that the prosecution must submit in order to prove that the insurance was cancelled by proper notice. A driver whose license is suspended or revoked as a result of not having the proper insurance coverage (violating VTL Section 318) may qualify for a restricted use license.