New Jersey Driving Without Insurance Lawyer
New Jersey law requires insurance coverage on every registered vehicle in the state. Despite the requirement, thousands of motorists are charged with driving without insurance every year. The scenarios that can result in this offense range from an innocent mistake resulting in a lapse in coverage to knowingly operating without coverage. Irrespective of the reason for the failure to possess insurance, the mandatory minimum penalties that you face upon conviction are severe. It is therefore crucial that you hire a skilled New Jersey driving without insurance lawyer if you were arrested for this violation.
At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our attorneys are equipped to build a strong defense with over 200 years of combined experience representing clients charged with driving without insurance. We fully understand what it takes to successfully defend this offense as we have handled countless violations over the last several decades. To speak to a skilled New Jersey traffic ticket lawyer immediately, call 877-450-8301. Initial consultations with our lawyers are free of charge and we are available 24/7 to assist you.
Types of Car Insurance Required in New Jersey
According to the State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, the following types of car insurance are required:
- Property damage liability insurance. Liability insurance pays for damages to vehicles incurred by others when you are at fault for the accident. A driver must carry property damage liability insurance in a minimum amount of $5,000.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.This type of coverage is used to pay for injuries that you sustain in a crash, and applies regardless of fault. This is often called medical payments or no-fault coverage, and is mandatory in a minimum amount of $15,000 per person, per accident.
- Uninsured motorist coverage.New Jersey also requires its drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage, which protects drivers in the event that they are involved in a crash with another driver who does not have insurance.
While there are other types of insurance that are available for purchase, as well as higher coverage amounts, both of which are often recommended, the above are the mandatory minimums. This is because in the state of New Jersey, drivers who are involved in accidents turn to their own insurance companies to recover damages before turning to the insurance of another driver, hence the lack of bodily injury liability insurance requirement. Failure to secure the above insurance types is a violation of state law (but purchasing other types of insurance is strongly recommended, although there are not penalties for the failure to do so).
Penalties for Driving without Insurance in New Jersey
Driving without insurance is harshly penalized in New Jersey under N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2. In fact, a first time conviction of driving without insurance is more harshly penalized than is a driving under the influence conviction. To be sure, consider the following consequences, per New Jersey Statutes Annotated 39:6B-2:
- First Offense: A first offense conviction of failure to carry motor vehicle insurance will result in a fine of between $300 and $1,000, a driver’s license suspension of one year, and a period of community service as determined by the court. Further, the convicted person will also be liable to pay surcharges for a period of three years after the offense, at a rate of $250 per year.
- Second and Subsequent Offense: Like all crimes, a second offense conviction is punished more severely than is a first offense. A second offense conviction of failure to carry motor vehicle insurance is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, 14 days’ imprisonment, 30 days’ worth of community service, license suspension for two years, and annual surcharges of $250 per year for a three-year time period.
In addition to the above penalties, a driver will also be assessed points on their driving record, which will count against them when seeking insurance (premiums will likely be much higher as such), and could result in a sum of points high enough to result in additional license suspension. It also goes without saying that in the event that you involved in a crash that results in damage to yourself, your vehicle, or another party or party’s vehicle, you will not be able to turn to your insurance for recovery, and instead may be liable for these expenses (depending upon the circumstances of the accident).
Defending Yourself Against Driving Against Insurance Charges
If you are charged with driving without insurance, it is imperative that you understand the defenses to such charges and what your options are for moving forward and building a case. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, who must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating a vehicle sans mandatory auto insurance coverage. Some defenses to this include:
Emergency operation. In some cases, you may be able to prove that while you knew your vehicle was uninsured, an emergency situation warranted the operation of the vehicle. An example of an emergency situation is a case in which you are using your uninsured vehicle to transport a person who is in desperate need of immediate medical care.
Lack of operation. If you can prove that you were not operating the vehicle at the time of charge, but were instead merely within the vehicle, you may be able to escape a conviction. For example, if you were sitting in the vehicle in your driveway, but the car what turned off, operation may be difficult to prove.
Lack of ownership. In some cases, a person may have no idea that the vehicle that they are driving is uninsured, such as is the case when they are driving a car that belongs to another person. This is even more common when borrowing the vehicle from an out-of-state driver.
Lack of knowledge. Another viable defense to a driving without insurance charge is a lack of knowledge. In some cases, a person’s insurance policy may be expired, or may be cancelled, without their intent or knowledge of the expiration/cancellation. A person may be under the assumption that they are operating their vehicle within the law in a case like this.
The prosecution, as mentioned above, has the burden of proof. This means that the prosecution is responsible for gathering evidence against you to establish that you indeed committed the crime with with you have been charged. The prosecution, therefore, must move to gather said evidence in a timely manner; if they fail to do so, your attorney can bring up speedy trial and constitutional right violation issues. Your attorney can also move to have evidence dismissed or withheld from being submitted to the court based on breaches of constitutional provisions or judicial errors.
In nearly all cases, it is within your best interest to plead not guilty, as your attorney may be able to have charges against you reduced through a plea bargain, charges against you dropped entirely as a result of police or judicial misconduct or lack of evidence, or secure you an innocent verdict through the development and presentation of a strong defense. Remember that just because you have been charged with driving without insurance, or any other traffic conviction, does not mean that you will be convicted of that charge.
Finally, consider the fact that a driving without insurance charge is often a secondary charge. Usually, a police officer discovered that you are driving without insurance after pulling you over for a separate offense, such as speeding, or you are apprehended and charged with leaving the scene of an accident (which is more common amongst those who do not have the required insurance). This means that seeking legal counsel and building a defense is doubly as important, as you may be facing multiple traffic violation charges.
Uninsured Motor Vehicle Defense Lawyers in New Jersey
If you have been charged with operating without insurance, you have legal rights and options moving forward. To begin, you have the right to hire an experienced and competent attorney who understands the municipal court system, the charges that you are facing, and the best defense and strategy to secure an outcome that is within your best interest. You also have the right to fully understand the charges against you, and to defend yourself against those charges.
The lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall understand that you may feel confused and frustrated at this point. In order to better understand your options and the penalties if you are convicted of driving without insurance, contact our office anytime 24/7. An attorney on our staff will be happy to address your questions without obligation. Call us now at 877-450-8301.