Driving Without Insurance

New Jersey Traffic Offense Attorney

Hamilton traffic ticket lawyer Leon Matchin protects motorists charged with offenses such as driving uninsured. Driving without insurance in New Jersey is a strict liability offense under one of the harshest traffic laws in the country. Effective legal representation against this charge is crucial to helping New Jersey drivers avoid criminal prosecution and preserving their licenses.

Driving Uninsured

New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.) 39:6B-2 requires that drivers purchase insurance for vehicles principally registered or garaged in the state. Mandatory coverage under N.J.S.A. 39:6B-1 insures owners against liability for property damage, bodily injury, or death resulting from operation of a motor vehicle. These requirements may be satisfied by maintaining “basic” or “special” auto insurance. Minimum policy limits and penalties for violations include:

  • $5,000 per accident for property damage or loss
  • $15,000 per accident involving bodily injury or death of one person
  • $30,000 per accident for personal injury or death of more than one person
  • Up to $1,000 fine, community service, and license suspension for first offense
    • Includes $250 annual insurance surcharge for 3 years, court costs, and fees
  • Up to $5,000 fine, 14-day jail sentence, and 2-year suspension for subsequent offenses
    • Includes 30 days of community service and mandatory reinstatement fee

New Jersey law imposes strict liability on motorists caught driving without insurance. This requires proving that the owner of a vehicle registered in New Jersey knew or should have known that the vehicle was uninsured. Failure to produce proof of insurance creates a rebuttable presumption of guilt. Driving uninsured is punished more severely than drunk driving and precludes the driver from recovering personal injury damages regardless of fault in the event of an accident.

Evidence of Coverage

Genuine mistakes of fact or intent are not defenses to a strict liability offense. Any “mix-up” or lapse in coverage is charged to the driver. Some courts have allowed motorists to “fix” the issue immediately upon becoming aware of the problem, but this is rare. Most motorists must prove that they are indeed covered under a valid policy, do not have a car registered or garaged in the state, or had “no reason to know” that the car was uninsured. This may be shown by registration in another state, lack of ownership, or coverage of another vehicle in the same household.

Insurance Mistake

Motorists may also claim lack of knowledge due to the insurer’s mistake. Insurance companies must follow strict deadlines and notice requirements to lawfully cancel a policy. N.J.A.C. 11:3-8.1 requires that insurers notify the insured of cancellation or non-renewal of the policy and the reason for the decision. N.J.S.A. 17:29C-7, 8, and 9 provide the following deadlines:

  • 20 days prior to date of cancellation for suspension, revocation, or fraud
  • 15 days prior to date of cancellation for nonpayment of premiums
  • 60 days prior to expiration of insurance in non-renewal for:
    • Failure to meet insurer’s acceptance criteria
    • Record of at-fault accidents, traffic violations

N.J.S.A. 17:29C-10 provides that proof of mailing the notice to the named insured at the address provided in the policy is sufficient, although not conclusive, to show compliance. The insured may challenge proof of notice by showing lack of receipt. Cancellation or refusal to renew insurance outside these criteria is not valid.

Uninsured Driving Defense

If you are charged with driving without insurance, Jackson traffic violation attorney Leon Matchin can help. He has successfully defended numerous motorists in the Municipal and Superior Courts of Middlesex, Monmouth, and Mercer Counties, as well as in other local areas. Call (732) 662-7658 today for a free consultation or contact us online.