Penalties for driving without NJ Car Insurance

Car insurance is required by law in New Jersey, get caught driving wihtout it and it will cost you.

Not having car insurance in New Jersey can be inconvenient and expensive if you get caught driving without verifiable coverage.

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The mandatory penalties imposed for driving without insurance in New Jersey is greater than the first offender penalties for drunk driving or possession of marijuana. Mandatory penalties include automatic loss of license for one year, $300.00 fine and a period of community service to be determined by the Municipal Court. N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2 The no car insurance statute is one of the few strict liability statutes. “Every owner or registered owner of a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this state shall maintain motor vehicle coverage, under provisions approved by the Commissioner of Insurance.” N.J.S.A. 39:6B-1 There are also court costs and insurance surcharges of $250.00 per year for three years. Failure to produce at the time of trial an insurance card or insurance policy covering the date of the offense creates a reputable presumption that the person was uninsured when charged with the offense.

“A notice of cancellation of a policy of automobile liability insurance is effective in this State only if it is based on one or more statutorily enumerated reasons, including the nonpayment of premiums. N.J.S.A. 17:29C-7(A)(a). Moreover, prior to March 10, 1981, where, as here, the cancellation was for nonpayment of premiums, the notice of cancellation must have been mailed or delivered by the insurance carrier (here Allstate) to the insured (here either defendant or his wife) at least ten days prior to the effective date of cancellation and must have been accompanied by a statement of the reason given for such cancellation. N.J.S.A. 17:29C-8. Proof of mailing of the notice of cancellation to the named insured at the address shown in the policy was deemed sufficient proof of notice. N.J.S.A. 17:29C-10. Under this latter statue, cancellation was effective whether or not the insured actually received notice of cancellation because proof of mailing, not proof of receipt, was the determinative factor. See Weathers v. Hartford Ins. Group, 77 N.J. 228, 234 (1978. Proof of mailing the notice, however, is not conclusive on the issue. The insured may still offer proof that he never received the notice “for the purpose of refuting the hypothesis of mailing.” Id. at 235. Thus, in Weathers, the Supreme Court held:

‘Although the inference of non-mailing provided by evidence of non-receipt might in most cases be outweighed by the inferences of mailing which may be drawn from a certificate of mailing whose reliability has been established, we discern no cogent reason for depriving the trier of fact of such evidence by holding it inadmissible , they are not conclusive of that issue and do not preclude the existence of a genuine issue of material fact in the face of a claim of non-receipt so as to entitle the insurer to judgment as a matter of law. See Sudduth v. Commonwealth County Mutual Ins. Co., 454 S. W. 2d 196 (Tex. Sup. Ct. 1970); 9 Wigmore on Evidence (3d ed. 1940) Sec. 2519; cf. Fitzpatrick v. Merchants and Manufacturers Fire Ins. Co., 122 N.J.L. 468 (E. &A. 1939). The contrary holding of Womack v. Fenton, 28 N.J. Super. 345 (App. Div. 1953), on this point is hereby overruled. Permitting the fact finder to consider the addressee-insured’s denial of receipt of the notice of cancellation does not improperly add to the insurer’s statutory burden of proving mailing by requiring it to prove actual receipt of the notice since such testimony is admissible only as the basis for an inference of its non-mailing. The insurer still need only prove constructive notice by adequately establishing that the notice of cancellation was mailed. Hochman at 388-389 Weathers at 235-236

The insurance statutes under Title 19 of the New Jersey laws contain provisions which sometimes provide that all members of a household are covered under a policy issued to one member even if their name is not set forth on the policy. The uninsured defendant who lives with someone who owns an insured car may be included under that person’s policy.

Operation is different in non-insurance matters than in drunk driving cases. A defendant who is seated in the driver’s seat, behind the steering wheel of a vehicle that is under tow and was in physical control of the vehicle did not “operate” the vehicle for the purposes of prohibiting operating the vehicle while suspended, operating uninsured vehicle and operating unregistered vehicle, where the vehicle did not have an engine and incapable of being operated under its own power. Counsel can argue the state must prove the defendant drove the vehicle. State v. Derby, 256 N.J. Super. 702, (Law Div. 1992).

The State is still required to provide discovery. Occasionally a case is dismissed because the State failed to provide discovery. The bottom line is never let your insurance expire. Mandatory penalties are automatic loss of license for one year, $300.00 fine and a period of community service to be determined by the Municipal Court. If you don’t have insurance, don’t drive.

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Penalties for driving in NJ without car insurance
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