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It is axiomatic that in New York, as in every other state, those who take advantage of the driving privilege must carry auto insurance. In this state, the laws are written to encourage motorists to have appropriate insurance by imposing various penalties for the failure to do so.

This post is only an overview of New York auto insurance requirements and the penalties for failing to comply with the law, and is not intended as legal advice. The best defense against the negative outcomes above is to carry insurance in your vehicle, and to keep it current. 

Failing to have car insurance in New York can lead to the following undesirable consequences:

  • Penalties apply if your insurance lapses. The longer you go with lapsed insurance, the higher the fine.
  • New York is a "no fault" state when it comes to payments for auto insurance damages. That is, in a multi-vehicle accident, each driver's insurance pays only for that driver's damages, regardless of who may have caused the accident. If you are involved in a car accident with another driver and you have no insurance, you cannot make a claim against the other driver's insurance policy even if the other driver was at fault.
  • Criminal penalties apply if you get pulled over in a traffic stop and have no insurance. You can be subject to up to $1500 in fines and 15 days in jail, even if you have not been in an accident.

If you find yourself being accused of an auto insurance-related violation of the law, your best line of defense is to have a traffic law attorney on your side who is well-acquainted with the legal requirements and available defenses, such as affirmative defenses, that you can raise if the reason for non-compliance was inadvertent.

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