Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in New York

Dashboard view from a taxi crossing the Queensboro Bridge amongst other insured drivers in Queens, NY

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Driving uninsured in any state is not a good idea; in the state of New York, there are severe consequences for driving without insurance. Learn what you need to do before your policy expires and what you'll face if you let it expire without following the procedures the state has set up.

Key Takeaways

  • In the state of New York, you must turn in your license plates before your insurance policy expires.
  • Driving without insurance in New York has severe consequences like jail time, steep fines, or having your vehicle impounded.
  • Insurance providers are required to notify the DMV the moment a policy lapses.

Authorities Are Notified Immediately

According to the New York Vehicle and Traffic Code, you are required to surrender your license plates before your insurance policy is canceled, or you will risk having your registration and your driver's license suspended.

The moment your policy lapses, the insurer will electronically notify the Department of Motor Vehicles—your vehicle registration will be immediately suspended. This will happen even if your car or truck is parked off of a public road or put into storage. If you fail to turn in your plates and get new insurance within 90 days, you will have to pay a registration reinstatement fee based on the number of days your registration was suspended.

The Fees Build Up

The daily fee in New York State is $8 for the first 30 days, $10 for the next 30, and $12 for the final 30. If the registration suspension period is more than 90 days, you must surrender your vehicle registration and plates. Your driver's license will also be suspended for the same number of days as your registration suspension. To reinstate your driver's license, you must pay the DMV a $50 fee.

Considering the applicable reinstatement fees and penalties, you likely will not save any money by letting your auto insurance lapse. In the state of New York, the insurance companies and the government coordinate with one another every day.

If your insurance lapses, you can not just hope that no one will notice—because the authorities will be notified.

A simple lapse in your insurance, however, would be the least of your problems. What if you decide to take your uninsured vehicle for a spin?

You Might Be Arrested, Fined, or Suspended

Section 319 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Code addresses driving without insurance. If you are caught driving your vehicle without proper insurance, you could be ticketed, arrested, your vehicle could be impounded, or the DMV can revoke your registration and your driver's license.

The cost of your citation will be a fine of between $150 and $1,500, or 15 days in jail. At the end of your license revocation period, you will be required to pay a civil penalty to the DMV for $750.

If that sounds reasonable, remember that you will also need to factor into these costs the amount of money you'll spend on public transit and paying more for insurance premiums in the future. Even worse, because New York will potentially impound a vehicle without insurance, you may find yourself paying a lot of money that you might not have to get your car out of impound or risk losing your vehicle.

You'll Pay All Costs if You're at Fault in an Accident

So far, all the costs and penalties we have discussed concern what you will owe to the state for having no insurance. While those costs can be steep, they pale compared to what you might end up paying if you cause an accident. If you get into a crash and it is your fault, you are responsible for the costs of any property damage and personal injuries that result. Those expenses could be devastating.

We all want to save money. Sometimes we have no choice. However, we almost always have a choice on where to cut back. Just remember, if you are tempted to economize by losing your auto insurance, fight that urge. The potential financial damage could be massive. In the end, you probably won’t save any money by letting your policy lapse anyway.

Article Sources

  1. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. "How to Surrender (Return or Turn in) Your Plates to the DMV."

  2. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. "Insurance Lapses."

  3. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. "How to Pay an Insurance Lapse Civil Penalty."

  4. The Laws of New York. "Vehicle & Traffic, Section 319."