September 23, 2004

The Penalties for Driving Without Liability Insurance are Unconstitutional

by W. Timothy Howes, Esq.

The law that penalizes New Jersey motorists for driving without liability insurance violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, and should be struck down by the courts.  Anyone charged with this offense should consider raising this issue in their defense.

Out of every fix of the New Jersey auto insurance system, a new problem grows.  In an effort to help the less fortunate drivers, the state has created a privileged class of drivers who are exempt from the liability insurance requirement based upon their economic status.  As such, the penalties for driving without liability insurance violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

New Jersey law requires motorists to carry minimum levels of insurance to cover them when they do damage to the person or property of another in a motor accident.  This is known as liability insurance, and is very expensive in New Jersey.

This year, the state created an exception for New Jersey motorists who qualify for and are receiving Medicaid benefits.  Under this exception, Medicaid beneficiaries can purchase special “Dollar-a-Day” insurance.  The special insurance specifically does not include the liability insurance that the average motorist is required to pay for at great cost.

In other words, who qualify for the “Dollar-a-Day” insurance are exempt from the harsh penalties that flow from a conviction for driving without liability insurance.  (Mandatory minimum of one year license suspension.) Their exemption is based on their economic status.  Therefore, it is unconstitutional.

This issue must be addressed before more New Jersey motorists are unfairly subjected to the heavy penalties for driving without liability insurance.

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If you need legal help in matters similar to those described in this document, call Howes & Howes for a prompt, confidential consultation.

Howes & Howes

26 Anderson Street

Raritan, New Jersey 08869

Telephone: (908)704-0037

email: [email protected]