Municipal Offense: Driving Without Insurance in New Jersey
Some of the harshest penalties levied by the New Jersey municipal courts are those related to driving without insurance. State law requires all drivers to carry adequate car insurance. The law even dictates the minimum amount of coverage. Drivers must have $15,000 for the injury or death of an individual, $30,000 for an additional person and $5,000 for property damage.
The law also stipulates the penalties that must be levied on drivers who fail to have at least this much coverage. At a minimum, a first time offender will pay a fine of $300. However, that fine could be as much as $1,000. Even worse, the driver could lose their license for a year and may have to perform community service. Drivers who are found guilty of a first offense are responsible for any court costs and must pay an annual $250 surcharge to the DMV for three years.
With a second offense, the penalties increase. Fines go up to around $500 to $5,000. The driver may have to serve two weeks in jail and complete at least 180 hours of community service. They’ll have to go without a license for two years, and they’ll be subject to three years of that $250 DMV surcharge. These are not the only penalties for a second offense. Nine insurance eligibility points are assessed, making it difficult and expensive to obtain proper insurance. Drivers are also required to apply to have their license reinstated after the period of suspension expires, and the DMV may refuse the application.
Clearly, the penalties for driving without insurance are hefty. In many ways, they are far more expensive than the monthly premiums for insurance coverage. If a driver’s license is suspended for lack of insurance, and then he is caught while driving with a suspended license, then the penalties only increase. A person could easily end up without a drivers’ license for years and pile up some serious fines.
Fortunately, there are defenses that a capable municipal court attorney should be able to advance regarding a charge for driving without insurance. The lawyer could argue that the driver was unaware that their insurance coverage had lapsed. Maybe the insurance company did not provide adequate notice. The point is that it is worthwhile to have the situation reviewed by a municipal court attorney. A number of factors may affect the outcome of the matter, and with considerable penalties at stake, an experienced attorney will only improve the situation.
Contact this office today for a free consultation: 732-297-8200