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By Michael Arbeit
Founding Attorney

The state of New York has strict penalties and consequences if you let your car insurance lapse. These penalties for lapses in insurance coverage are generally in place to encourage continuous coverage and responsible behavior for the sake of public and individual welfare. Here are some of the reasons why penalties can be strict:

  • Public Safety: A lapse in auto insurance can result in uninsured drivers being on the road, posing risks to themselves and other drivers. Accidents involving uninsured drivers can lead to significant financial burdens for the injured parties.
  • Legal Requirement:  Automobile insurance is legally mandated in New York, and a failure to comply results in penalties as a matter of law enforcement.
  • Rate Increases: Insurance companies often increase rates for those who let their policies lapse, which they justify by showing data illustrating that these individuals pose a higher risk.
  • Administrative Costs: Insurance companies incur costs when policies are initiated, altered, or terminated. Frequent changes may incur administrative penalties.
  • Encourage Responsibility: Penalties act as a deterrent against irresponsible behavior and encourage people to keep their policies active.
  • Bad Faith: A history of lapses might indicate to an insurer that you’re only interested in carrying insurance when you perceive a higher risk, which is generally not favorable for their business model.
  • Social Costs: In some cases, failure to maintain insurance can impose costs on society as a whole, in the form of uncompensated care or increased risk to others.

Fines for Not Having Car Insurance in New York State Due To Lapsed Coverage

In New York, you are required to pay a civil penalty fine for each day that you did not have insurance due to lapsed coverage. Here’s how the prices break down:

  • $8 per day for days 1–30
  • $10 per day for days 31–60
  • $12 per day for days 61–90

As you can see, you will be charged more the longer you have lapsed insurance. If you are unable to pay, you also have the option of surrendering your registration and plates for an equal number of days as the lapse. So, if your lapse was 21 days long, you could surrender your registration and plates to the DMV for the next 21 days. The maximum civil penalty for a 90-day lapse would be $900.

At 91 days and beyond, you no longer have the option to pay a civil penalty fine. At that point, your license and registration will be automatically suspended for the same time as your lapse. If your lapse went on for 120 days, your driving privileges would be suspended for another 120 days. You’d have to pay another $50 suspension termination fee to reinstate your license.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in New York 

The penalty for driving without insurance in general in New York is another story. You’ll still have to pay the civil penalty for however long your lapse is. But when you get pulled over by an officer, they could write you a ticket for up to $1,500 or put you in jail for 15 days, depending on the number of offenses. This also applies if you let someone else drive your uninsured vehicle.

An officer could also impound your car, which would cost money to retrieve later on. Finally, your license and registration would be revoked. It’s essential to keep in mind that this is very different from a registration or driver’s license suspension.

You would have to pay a $750 civil penalty to reinstate a revoked license. That’s a lot more than $50 for a suspended license. To reinstate a revoked registration, you basically have to apply for a new one. You may have to go to a DMV office in person, take driving tests again, and pay the typical fee to register a vehicle.

Steps To Take To Resolve Your Lapse in Insurance Coverage Situation

Handling a lapsed insurance situation that has led to a revoked license can be a complicated and stressful process. Laws and procedures vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it’s crucial to consult the specific rules and regulations in your area. Generally, here are the steps you might need to follow to resolve the situation:

  1. Contact the Insurance Company: Reach out to your insurance company to find out if you can reinstate your insurance policy. The insurer may require you to pay back premiums, late fees, and possibly face higher rates due to the lapse.
  2. Obtain New Insurance: If reinstatement is not an option, you will need to obtain new insurance coverage. Make sure to look around and get the minimum required coverage for your jurisdiction. You will likely face higher premiums due to the lapse in coverage and the revocation of your license.
  3. Confirm Coverage: Once you have secured new insurance, make sure you have proof of the new coverage. This may be necessary to show to the department of motor vehicles (DMV) or relevant authorities.
  4. Pay Any Fines or Penalties: Find out what fines or penalties you owe for driving without insurance and having a revoked license. Make arrangements to pay these fees as soon as possible.
  5. Complete Any Required Courses or Program: You must  take a defensive driving course in order to reinstate your license in New York.
  6. Apply for License Reinstatement: Contact your local DMV to determine the procedure for license reinstatement. You may need to fill out forms, present proof of new insurance, and possibly pass a driving test.
  7. Attend a Hearing: Some jurisdictions require you to attend a hearing before your license is reinstated. Be prepared to explain the lapse in insurance and how you have corrected the situation.
  8. Retrieve or Receive New License: If all goes well, and you have met all the requirements and paid all the fines, you should be able to get your license reinstated or receive a new one.
  9. Maintain Continuous Coverage: To avoid future issues, set up automatic payments or reminders to ensure you maintain continuous insurance coverage.
  10. Check Your Record: After a predetermined period, check your driving record to make sure it reflects that your license has been reinstated and that you have current insurance coverage.

Contact Our Long Island Traffic Defense Attorney Today

Failing to properly resolve the situation where your car insurance has lapsed can result in severe penalties, including license suspension or revocation, higher insurance rates, and even jail time in some cases. Therefore, it is essential to act quickly and responsibly to rectify the situation. Since laws and regulations can change, make sure that you are familiar with the specific laws regarding car insurance in New York.  

Due to the complexity and potential severity of this situation, it is advisable to hire an attorney who handles cases in traffic law. Contact Michael A. Arbeit P.C. to help you navigate your situation and make sure you limit the amount of penalties, and help you get back on track with your driver’s license.

About the Author
Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. is devoted to all Criminal Defense and  Traffic related matters.  Michael practices primarily in the Criminal and County (Supreme) Courts in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Kings County, New York County and the Bronx County.  Michael is also licensed to practice law in the Federal Courts of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and the Southern District of New York (SDNY).