The Driving Without Valid Insurance statute is set forth in NJSA 39:6b-1 and the penalties for Driving Without Insurance are set forth in NJSA 39:6b-2. This is a serious offense in New Jersey and can result in a suspension of your License for one year, a three hundred to one thousand dollar fine and a period of community service as set by the Municipal Court. A second offense raises the fines and penalties dramatically and includes mandatory jail time. The Statute provides that every Owner of a Motor Vehicle operated or Principally Garaged in New Jersey must maintain a minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in Liability Coverage.
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STEVEN P. LOMBARDI, ESQ.
The penalty for failing to maintain a valid policy is set forth in NJSA 39:6b-2 as follows:
NJSA 39:6b-2 Penalties
Any owner or registrant of a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this State who operates or causes to be operated a motor vehicle upon any public road or highway in
this State without motor vehicle liability insurance coverage required by this act, and any operator who operates or causes a motor vehicle to be operated and who knows or should know from the
attendant circumstances that the motor vehicle is without motor vehicle liability insurance coverage required by this act shall be subject, for the first offense, to a fine of not less than $300 nor
more than $1,000 and a period of community service to be determined by the court, and shall forthwith forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of one
year from the date of conviction.? Upon subsequent conviction, he shall be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 and shall be subject to imprisonment for a term of 14 days and shall be ordered by the
court to perform community service for a period of 30 days, which shall be of such form and on such terms as the court shall deem appropriate under the circumstances, and shall forfeit his right to
operate a motor vehicle for a period of two years from the date of his conviction, and, after the expiration of said period, he may make application to the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles
for a license to operate a motor vehicle, which application may be granted at the discretion of the director. The directors discretion shall be based upon an assessment of the likelihood that the
individual will operate or cause a motor vehicle to be operated in the future without the insurance coverage required by this act. A complaint for violation of this act may be made to a municipal
court at any time within six months after the date of the alleged offense.
Failure to produce at the time of trial an insurance identification card or an insurance policy which was in force for the time of operation for which the offense is charged creates a rebuttable presumption that the person was uninsured when charged with a violation of this section.
These Statutes are known as strict liability statutes in that if you cannot produce a valid insurance card at the time of the court hearing you are presumed to have no insurance and guilty. There
are some defenses which can be asserted to avoid the harsh consequences of the Statutes. First, the vehicle's driver who is ticketed must also be the owner of the vehicle being operated at the
time of the incident or have knowledge that the vehicle was uninsured. Second, if your policy was improperly cancelled at the time of the incident this is also a defense. If for example
your policy was cancelled for non payment of the premium the insurer is required to give you notice ten days prior to any cancellation by way of certified mail. A policy of insurance can only
be cancelled for the reasons set forth in N.J.S.A. 17:29. Knowledge of a lack of insurance by the owner driver ticketed is not a defense. If a policy was cancelled prior to the date
of the ticket the State has the burden to prove the vehicle's insurance was cancelled properly.